HURRICANE LESLIE LEAVES 300,000 WITHOUT POWER AND CAUSES WIDESPREAD DAMAGE
At least 300,000 homes were without power on Sunday 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 km/h (60 mph), was most intense during the night. By Sunday morning the powerful winds and heavy rains had mostly subsided.
In Spain, winds of up to 100 km/h uprooted trees in the center 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.
Hundreds of people remained in an arts centre in Figueira da Foz after a concert because of the high winds.
A resident of the town told SIC television: "I have never seen anything like it, The town seemed to be in a state of war, with cars smashed by fallen trees. People were very worried."
The roof blew off a stadium hosting the European final of the women's roller hockey competition, halting the event, AFP news agency reported.
It is rare for an Atlantic hurricane to reach the Iberian peninsula, with only five such events recorded.
Hurricane Leslie had formed on 23 September but was downgraded to a tropical storm before it made landfall. However, it retained gusts of hurricane strength.
The Spanish Meteorological Agency (Amet) said Leslie was moving north-east through the peninsula.
Gusts of almost 100km/h were recorded near the city of Zamora early on Sunday, but winds have now lessened.
Amet said that on Sunday morning large areas of Asturias, Castille and León and Cantabria would be affected, with north-eastern areas hit in the afternoon.
Four departments in southern France have also been put on alert for storms and flooding.