Ophelia already has become a category 1 hurricane and forecast models include its arrival at the coast of Portugal in the next few days. This would be the third recorded hurricane to hit Portugal in the county’s recorded weather history.
Tropical storm Ophelia hit the hurricane category at 9:35 pm on Wednesday and the first forecast models released on Wednesday do not rule out mainland Portugal and the Açores from the hurricane’s path.
Ophelia is currently about 1,200 kilometers from the Açores and already has reached 120 kilometers per hour.
“It looks like a hurricane on the satellite, but it’s not yet one,” warns the National Hurricane Center on Wednesday, early evening. The NHC is the monitoring authority for tropical storms and Atlantic hurricanes.
“Ophelia will gain momentum and will become a hurricane any time between Wednesday and tomorrow,” reads the NHC statement.
Several models provided by the NHC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the almost certain effects of the hurricane in Portugal from Saturday night.
The forecast published by the IPMA is in line with these forecasts.
Although the weather forecasts do not indicate any extraordinary risks, recommendations and safety practices will be posted by the Portugal’s Civil Protection Authority and fire departments.
Saturday’s temperature will continue to be higher than normal for the time of year, with maximums of 32ºC and minimum of 19ºC.
The probability of rain arriving on Sunday, when temperatures are expected to drop by two degrees, is very high. On Monday, the highs are expected to drop to 24ºC and rain should continue all week.
It is rare for a hurricane to form so close to the Açores and rarer still for a forecast model to include Europe, because the Açores High, an axis of high atmospheric pressure, acts as an invisible barrier and prevents hurricanes and other cyclonic formations gaining strength as they approach Europe.
The first effects should be felt in the Açores archipelago with rain and strong wind which could reach 80 kilometers per hour in the eastern Açorean islands this weekend.
“There is an increase in the intensity of the wind in the last few hours: average wind of 110 km / h and bursts of 140 km / h. Cyclone Ophelia is moving to the east at 06 km / h and is expected to continue to intensify in the next few hours reaching hurricane category in the next eight hours.
“The cyclone is expected to remain almost stationary in the next few hours, however it is anticipated that from Thursday it will begin to move to the north east, approaching the archipelago,” reads an IPMA statement tonight.
The NHC predicts that after passing the Portuguese coast, Ophelia may cause very strong winds and rain in the UK and Ireland, “The hurricane may reach the Portuguese coastline as a post-tropical depression. It would be the third time this has happened since records began.”
The only cyclonic formations of this size reaching Portugal did so in October 1842 and in October 2005, when the remnants of Hurricane Vince hit the mainland.
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