France braces for impact after Spain, Portugal battered by storm
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Spain and Portugal were battered by a powerful storm on Saturday that brought hurricane-force winds of up to 140 kilometres an hour, officials said. The storm is expected to hit several regions of France on Sunday.
AFP - Spain and Portugal were lashed by a powerful storm Saturday that brought hurricane force winds of up to 140 kilometres (87 miles) an hour, that should also hit several regions in France, officials said.
Spanish meteorological agency Aemet said the storm would be short but very violent and capable of causing serious damage.
"This is a very deep, very intense and very fast-moving storm," Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said warning people to avoid using their cars and taking mountain or sea walks.
Strong winds of up to 128 kilometres (79 miles) an hour hit Spain's Canary archipelago, in particular the islands of La Palma, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, though without resulting in major damage.
The storm developed in the Atlantic off the Portuguese island of Madeira, still reeling from the flash floods sparked by heavy rains that wrecked the centre of the capital Funchal and killed 42 people a week ago.
The cost of the damage for the tourist island off northwest Africa is more than one billion euros (1.35 billion dollars), according to the head of the local government, Alberto Joao Jardim.
Despite the violent winds, "the night was calm and normal", Madeira firemen said, and traffic at the main airport on Saturday morning was normal.
The whole of Portugal has been placed on "orange" alert by the civil protection authority, the second highest in the four-level scale, with gusts reaching 126 kilometres (78 miles) an hour in parts of Portugal.
Four French departments were placed on red alert, while Spain's northwestern region of Galicia, where wind gusts reached 140 kilometres an hour Saturday afternoon, as well as the Basque country, Castilla y Leon and Cantabria had all been placed on the highest red alert.
No major damage was reported from these regions but experts warned winds could peak at 160 kilometres (100 miles) an hour.
In France, 66 of the 95 departments were placed on orange alert for 24 hours from 2000 GMT Saturday, as winds between 110 and 140 kilometres (70 and 85 miles) an hour were expected on the coast.
Meteo France said the storm would move rapidly, starting in the south and hitting many regions before it made its way towards Denmark by Sunday evening.