Tornado!

Last Friday we had some bodacious weather in the Algarve. Here in Loulé, it manifested as vicious thunderstorms with high winds and torrential rain, and our power went out not once, not twice, but three times. At one point in the late afternoon, the light inside our flat changed and I looked out the window to see an eerie yellowish tint to the clouds. I thought, “Now that looks threatening.”

Waterspout

The threat wasn’t to us, it was to Lagoa and Silves, two towns I’ve happily biked through on several occasions. They were both hit by a tornado that started out as a waterspout, came ashore at Carvoeiro, and headed inland. In Lagoa it tossed cars around like they were trash cans, but it saved its worst for Silves, where it uprooted trees, ripped away roofs, blew out windows, and rolled a camper four times (with two people inside it) before dumping it atop two cars. Most oddly, it sucked a chair out the veranda door of a fourth-floor apartment, sailed it across the street, and blew it into the dining room window of a third-floor apartment. It also dropped a poor pulverized octopus on the street, which it had picked up at the coast, about 15 kilometers away.

Thirteen people were wounded, three of them seriously, and twelve people were left homeless. The mayor of Silves appealed to the government for money to repair and rebuild the damage, but so far the Minister of Internal Affairs is handing out doublespeak, not cash. (Not that I have any idea where the cash would come from, with the Portuguese government under such duress these days.)

This is truly strange weather. Portugal doesn’t do tornadoes. According to Público, the nation has had 87 tornadoes in the last 80 years. The paper goes on to point out that according to NOAA records, the US averaged 1,253 tornadoes per year from 1991 to 2010, meaning that the US gets more tornadoes in a month than Portugal has had in eight decades.

That probably explains why, when the tornado hit Silves, YouTube poster Gui Teixeira videotaped it destroying the football field in front of his apartment, rather than getting the hell away from his window. Clearly, his amazement overrode his instinct for self-preservation — dangerous for him, but great viewing for us.

You can also see a video of the tornado at a distance, which gives some perspective on just how big it was, as well as photos of the damage.

(Hat tip to Jorge Candeias for these links. The photo heading this post was taken from the linked meteoPT forum page, but I am not certain if poster “pmtoliveira” was the photographer.)

UPDATE: Oh my, there were two tornadoes that day. The second was at Alvor. Video here.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
This entry was posted in event, Portugal, video. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Tornado!

  1. xenatuba says:

    Wild stuff!

  2. Lisa Shaw says:

    That Silves video is really scary. I would be *freaking out*, yet the camera man uttered not a peep!

    I’m glad you are okay. Sorry about the octopus, though.

  3. Cathy White says:

    That was actually quite scary .I thought the window was going to blow in, then realised we wouldn’t be seeing the footage because the cameraman would be splatt.

  4. M. says:

    Scary! I hope all wounded people are ok.
    Poland also doesn’t do tornadoes, but last couple of years there are more and more of them. Because we don’t have these big bad companies to state differently, we believe that the reason is the climate warming. Seeing catastrophic results of some tornadoes in America, we are worried, but as for now there are no fatalities. We suspect that different than in US technology of building houses saved some lives. BTW Isn’t it a little unfair to compare small Portugal to big US?

  5. Cathy White says:

    The weather is getting wild all over. Early this morning a huge gust of wind hit the house, woke me up in time to see two lightening strikes and , poof, out went the power. Come daylight I went out to check for damage and found my neighbours summerhouse ( brand new ) on my lawn, having been blown through a dry stane wall, taking the stones with it. Spent the rest of the day doing running repairs to the hen run which will need rebuilding come the better weather. On a plus side, plenty of firewood for next year.

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