Hurricane Leslie’s Impact on the Iberian Peninsula: A Historical Analysis of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season




Hurricane Leslie 2018

Hurricane Leslie, known as Storm Leslie or Cyclone Leslie during its extratropical phase, was a significant weather event that struck the Iberian Peninsula in October 2018. This research article provides a comprehensive analysis of Leslie’s formation, track, and the extensive impact it had on various regions. By examining the areas affected before, during, and after landfall, we aim to understand the devastation caused by Leslie and provide insights for future hurricane preparedness and mitigation strategies.

Hurricane Leslie: originated from an extratropical cyclone over the northern Atlantic in late September 2018. After transitioning between subtropical and tropical storm states, Leslie intensified into a Category 1 hurricane on October 3rd. The storm meandered and underwent fluctuations in strength, ultimately making landfall in central Portugal as an extratropical cyclone on October 13th. This research article delves into the impacts experienced in Portugal, Spain, and France.

Effects Before and During Landfall: Hurricane Leslie posed a significant threat as it approached the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal faced the brunt of the storm’s power, with wind gusts reaching up to 190 km/h (120 mph). The strong winds felled thousands of trees, damaged hundreds of structures, and caused widespread power outages affecting over 300,000 citizens. The estimated damage in Portugal alone exceeded €120 million (US$145 million).

In Spain: Leslie brought strong winds and torrential rainfall, resulting in river overflow, landslides, and structural damage in the Catalonia region. The storm caused approximately 14,000 power outages and disrupted transportation networks. Notably, the storm’s interaction with a cold front led to record-breaking flooding in the Aude region of France, causing extensive damage amounting to €220 million (US$254 million). The flooding was deemed the worst since 1891, damaging buildings, roads, and vehicles across several towns and cities.

Loss of Life and Rebuilding Efforts: Tragically, Hurricane Leslie claimed 17 lives in mainland Europe. Two direct deaths occurred in Portugal, and 15 indirect deaths were reported in France. The human toll underscores the urgency for effective disaster preparedness and response.

In the aftermath of Leslie the national, municipal, and city governments collaborated to initiate cleanup efforts, repair damaged buildings, and restore local forests. The total cost of damages caused by Leslie was estimated at over €424 million (US$500 million) by Aon in November 2018.

Preparedness for Future Storms: To enhance preparedness for hurricanes similar to Leslie, communities in vulnerable regions should implement the following measures:

a. Early Warning Systems: Strengthening and improving meteorological and communication networks for timely and accurate storm forecasts and warnings.

b. Evacuation Plans: Developing and practicing evacuation protocols to ensure the safety of residents in high-risk areas.

c. Infrastructure Resilience: Implementing building codes that account for severe weather events, reinforcing critical infrastructure, and safeguarding electrical and communication systems.

d. Community Engagement: Educating the public about hurricane preparedness, including securing loose items, stockpiling emergency supplies, and having a family disaster plan in place.

Interesting Fact: As a direct result of Hurricane Leslie in 2018, researchers discovered that the storm’s immense energy and strong winds led to a rare phenomenon called “seiche” in the Tagus River in Lisbon, Portugal. This occurrence caused the river to flow backward for a short period, highlighting the extraordinary power hurricanes can exert on local water bodies.


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