A fishing boat endures heavy rain and strong winds while moored at the port in Horta, in the Portuguese island of Faial, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Hurricane Lorenzo is lashing the mid-Atlantic Azores Islands with heavy rain, powerful winds and high waves. The Category 2 hurricane passed the Portuguese island chain Wednesday. (AP Photo/Joao Henriques)

Category 2 hurricane batters mid-Atlantic Azores Islands

October 02, 2019 - 4:33 am

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Hurricane Lorenzo lashed the mid-Atlantic Azores Islands with heavy rain, powerful winds and high waves Wednesday, but initial reports said it caused only minor damage.

The Azores Civil Protection Agency said the Category 2 hurricane felled trees and power lines as it passed just west of the Portuguese island chain.

Hurricanes the size of Lorenzo are rare so far north and east in the Atlantic basin.

Lorenzo is producing huge swells across the North Atlantic as it moves northeast toward Ireland the United Kingdom and weakens to Category 1. The U.K. Met Office forecast "very strong winds and heavy rain" for western areas of the country on Thursday and Friday.

Azores Civil Protection Agency chief Carlos Neves said two homes were safely evacuated and no injuries were reported. Emergency crews were removing fallen trees from roads and restoring downed power lines, he said.

The Portuguese weather agency reported gusts of up to 145 kph (90 mph) in the Azores — lower than forecast as Lorenzo lost power over cooler water.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said he had spoken to Azores officials at daybreak and the hurricane risk had peaked without major incidents.

"Fortunately, everything indicates that things have not turned out as badly as we feared," Costa told reporters in Lisbon.

Around 250,000 people live on the nine volcanic islands.

Authorities in the archipelago placed seven islands on red alert as Lorenzo approached. School classes were canceled and government offices were closed as people were told to remain indoors Wednesday.

Azores airline SATA canceled all flights to the archipelago, and some islands closed their ports.

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