(AFP) — Portugal placed most of the country on red alert Saturday as Hurricane Leslie barrelled towards its coastline in what could be the fiercest storm to hit the country since 1842.
Authorities urged those living by the coast to stay indoors and fishermen to return to port while some flights were cancelled over warnings winds could reach up to 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles per hour).
Global weather forecasting site AccuWeather has dubbed Leslie a “zombie hurricane” as it first formed on September 23 “and has been meandering the waters of the Atlantic Ocean for weeks.”
Meteorological records indicate that only five hurricanes have ever arrived in this part of the Atlantic Ocean, and Leslie could turn out to be the fiercest storm to hit Portugal since 1842.
“We don’t know what the real and concrete impact will be, so we’re erring on the side of caution,” Lisbon’s mayor Fernando Medina told reporters.
Over the past 176 years, only Hurricane Vince has made landfall on the Iberian Peninsula, hitting southern Spain in 2005, according to weather records cited by experts.
Ophelia then made landfall in Ireland as a violent storm, killing three people.
While Leslie is likely to be downgraded to storm category when it hits western Spain on Sunday, authorities still warned that it could cause damage as it adds on to other active weather fronts.