TERCEIRA ISLAND, Portugal, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Hurricane Lorenzo is likely to weaken further but still reach Portugal’s Azores islands as a Category 1 hurricane early on Wednesday, the Portuguese national weather service said on Tuesday as the regional government prepared to shut schools.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre said it expected the eye of Lorenzo to pass near the western Azores in the Atlantic with a hurricane warning in effect for the islands of Flores, Corvo, Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira.
Maximum sustained winds would be around 155 km/h (100 mph), with higher gusts, and the hurricane is likely to cause life-threatening waves, with only a slow weakening forecast over the next 48 hours, the NHC said.
“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” it said.
The weather was calm and partly sunny over the islands on Tuesday, and their inhabitants, who are accustomed to hurricane and storm warnings, were carrying on with business as usual.
The Azorean airline SATA that operates daily flights between Portugal’s capital Lisbon and some of the main islands, has warned that nearly 1,000 passengers would likely be affected by flight cancellations due to adverse weather on Wednesday.
Portugal’s Civil Protection department has asked people to fell any trees at risk of falling, to keep drainage systems clear, shelter animals and contact the authorities if leaks or cracks in walls become noticeable.
Lorenzo briefly became a Category 5 at the weekend, the strongest hurricane on record this far north and east in the Atlantic, but has since been downgraded to a Category 2. (Reporting by Catarina Demony, writing by Andrei Khalip; editing by David Evans)