STORM WARNING: Hurricane Leslie heading towards Madeira, Portugal and Spain

School bus

School bus

Hurricane Leslie this morning is a category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75mph and a central pressure of 980mb, moving east-northeast at 38mph.

Hurricane Leslie was moving quickly toward the Iberian Peninsula, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday.

In another scenario, it could take a more southeasterly direction as a tropical storm with winds of up to force 10-11 and mountainous seas, entering the zone north of the Canary Islands on Monday as a post-tropical cyclone with winds up to force 8-9 and rough seas.

Unsafe winds with gusts reaching 75mph, perhaps as high as 90mph with exposure, risky surf and heavy rainfall (locally over 100mm) will affect Portugal and western Spain tonight and into Sunday before the system weakens as it moves inland.

Leslie is now over northern Spain, and emergency services warned of the possibility of flash floods and urged to motorists to be vigilant in case of strong winds.

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In October 2017, strong winds from Hurricane Ophelia, which travelled north off the coast of Portugal and western Spain, fed forest fires that killed around 40 people during a heat wave.

Leslie is a bit of a weather outlier, since hurricanes that regularly batter the American side of the Atlantic rarely bring their destructive force across to Europe.

The storm was one of the most powerful to ever hit the country.

Leslie was dubbed a "zombie" hurricane as it first formed on September 23, only to meander through the Atlantic Ocean for weeks.

Only Hurricane Vince has made landfall on the Iberian peninsula over the last 176 years, hitting southern Spain in 2005, according to weather records.

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