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.”
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.
(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.