Storm Leslie hits Portugal, leaves thousands without power

At least 1,000 trees were uprooted, mainly in coastal towns north of Lisbon where Storm Leslie first reached land, hitting power lines and blocking roads. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A view of a damaged car hit by a fallen tree after the passage of Storm Leslie in Coimbra, central Portugal, on Oct 14, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A house damaged after a tree fell on it during the storm, which hit Portugal leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power before carrying heavy rain into Spain. PHOTO: AFP

LISBON (REUTERS, AFP) - At least 300,000 homes were without power on Sunday (Oct 14) after tropical storm Leslie hit Portugal's Atlantic coast, bringing with it heavy rain, strong winds and surging seas.

Leslie was downgraded from a hurricane before it reached Portugal late on Saturday. Authorities had urged people to stay indoors and keep away from coastal areas.

At least 1,000 trees were uprooted, mainly in coastal towns north of Lisbon where the storm first reached land, hitting power lines and blocking roads.

The A1, the main motorway running through Portugal, was temporarily blocked by a fallen tree, authorities said.

More than 300,000 homes lost electricity as the storm passed, said Belo Costa, commander at the Civil Protection Agency.

The storm, carrying winds of up 100 kph, was most intense during the night. By Sunday morning the powerful winds and heavy rains had mostly subsided.

Power was being restored across the north and centre of the country during the morning.

In Spain, winds of up to 100 kph uprooted trees in the centre of the country early on Sunday morning. Emergency services issued flood warnings for the north and northwest of the country for Sunday afternoon and evening, advising Spaniards to avoid driving in the storm.

Earlier this week, 12 people were killed in flash floods on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.

Leslie was dubbed a "zombie" hurricane as it first formed on September 23, only to meander through the Atlantic Ocean for weeks. There were fears it could be the worst storm to hit the region in more than 150 years, but it weakened to a post-tropical storm before reaching the Portuguese coastline in the early hours of Sunday.

Only five hurricanes have ever arrived in this region of the Atlantic Ocean, and it had been feared Leslie could turn out to be the most powerful storm to hit Portugal since 1842.

Over the past 176 years, only Hurricane Vince has made landfall on the Iberian peninsula, hitting southern Spain in 2005, according to weather records.

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