The Portuguese Met Office said Storm Emma formed west of the Azores and was due to remain in place for much of the week. The peak of the storm was forecast for Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday morning, but out in the Atlantic Emma was already flexing her meteorological muscle on Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, a Germania flight from Nuremberg (Germany) to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, was forced to divert to the Algarve due to stormy conditions over the islands.
The airline told The Portugal News that “the diversion was due to heavy storms over the Canary Islands”, and citing media reports added, “many flights, in particular to and from Gran Canaria and Tenerife, were affected.”
Germania said the aircraft diverted to Faro late on Sunday afternoon, but “continued its flight to Gran Canaria some hours later after the weather had improved.”
A TAP Air Portugal flight from Lisbon to Funchal (Madeira) was also forced to return to the Portuguese capital on Sunday due to the wrath of Storm Emma. Strong winds led to the flight eventually being cancelled, along with the local ferry service between Funchal and nearby Porto Santo.
Many other flights to and from Madeira and Porto Santo were also cancelled at the start of this week, with reports of trees being felled on the island by winds that reached up to 113 kilometres per hour.
On Monday, the Met Office and local port captaincies along mainland Portugal’s coastline issued advisories for boats to stay moored in their berths and not go out to sea due to the rough conditions.
The weather did indeed worsen as forecast, and on Tuesday, snowfall caused problems for drivers in the Vila Real district in northern Portugal, where main roads, motorways and local infrastructures including schools were closed.
It began snowing heavily on Tuesday afternoon in various places across northern Portugal, with Bragança, Guarda and Vila Real all being placed on amber warnings, the second most severe, because of the weather.
Elsewhere, Emma really made her presence felt during the early hours of Wednesday morning when, according to the ANPC National Civil Protection Authority’s website, at 3.30am there were 33 incidents in course of being resolved, requiring the efforts of close to 100 officials.
Close to 200 weather-related incidents were registered by the ANPC between 6pm Tuesday night and 7am Wednesday morning, most of them involving trees and other debris being blown onto and blocking roads, power cuts and localised flooding.
In the Azores, the inclement weather on Wednesday morning caused a landslide, although flights between the archipelago’s nine islands were unaffected.
Madeira was placed on Red Alert on Wednesday, due to high winds and massive waves, which peaked at 140 kilometres per hour and 14 metres in height, respectively.
On Thursday mainland Portugal was on alert due to the possibility of tornados after the extreme wind blasting around the country caused a twister Wednesday afternoon in the Algarve city of Faro, overturning boats in the local docks and damaging an esplanade.
By 11pm Wednesday night the National Civil Protection Authority had registered 637 weather-related incidents throughout the county.