Mainland Portugal hit by its first (sub)tropical cyclone on record

Mainland Portugal hit by its first (sub)tropical cyclone on record

Subtropical Storm "Alpha" -- the 22nd named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and the earliest 22nd Atlantic named storm on record -- made landfall near central Portugal at 18:30 UTC on September 18, just 2 hours after its formation. Alpha is the first tropical or subtropical cyclone on record to strike mainland Portugal and the third to make landfall in mainland Europe.

Alpha had maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h (50 mph) at the time of landfall and minimum central pressure of 996 hPa. This made it the first (sub)tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in mainland Portugal.

After making landfall, alpha quickly weakened as it headed further into the Iberian Peninsula, becoming a remnant low at 03:00 UTC on September 19.

Orange warnings for high winds and heavy rainfall were issued for Coimbra and Leiria districts ahead of the landfall.

Subtropical Storm "Alpha" at 14:30 UTC on September 18, 2020. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-11, RAMMB/CIRA

Although Alpha was a small storm, with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 55 km (35 miles) from the center, it managed to cause widespread power outages, down hundreds of trees, and damage dozens of dozens of buildings and vehicles.

In addition, at least two tornadoes were reported in Beja and Palmela.

Some cities reported extreme flash flooding and powerful winds.

In total, authorities said there were 203 reports of fallen trees, 174 reports of minor flooding, 88 structures damaged, and 82 roads blocked by debris.

Most of the damage reports came from the Leira District (143), followed by 135 reports from the Lisbon District.

Together with 2005, Alpha marked the second time in recorded history that the main naming list for the Atlantic basin has been exhausted and Greek letters were used.

Alpha was the first tropical or subtropical cyclone to make landfall in mainland Portugal and the third to make landfall in mainland Europe, following a hurricane in Spain in 1842 and Hurricane "Vince" in 2005 as a tropical depression.

Furthermore, Alpha and Medicane Cassilda (Ianos) made landfall on the same day. This marked the first time in history that two subtropical cyclones hit Europe on the same day.

Featured image: Subtropical Storm "Alpha" at 14:30 UTC on September 18, 2020. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-11, RAMMB/CIRA

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