As former Hurricane Ophelia charged toward Ireland, it drew strong, dry winds over the Iberian Peninsula, which stoked violent forest fires over the weekend.
Forty-five people died, 41 in Portugal and four in Spain.
In Portugal, wildfires have killed more than 100 people this year. This year’s death toll is “far higher” than the previous record in Portugal of 25 in 1966, the Associated Press reported.
In the above video, we see footage of a fire whirl which erupted in one of the blazes in Portugal earlier this month. Such a whirl is sometimes called a fire tornado or “firenado,” because the flames and smoke take on a funnel-like shape. NOAA describes how they are born:
While rare, fire tornadoes (also known as fire whirls) generally form when superheated air near the surface of a large fire zone rises rapidly in an airmass where sufficient horizontal or vertical vorticity (spin in the atmosphere) is also present. Much like a dust devil or whirlwind, the rapidly rising air above a wildfire can accelerate and turn the local vorticity into a tight vertical vortex, now composed of fire instead of dust.
The Associated Press said rain and lower temperatures helped crews contain the recent fires by Tuesday.
Fires across Portugal have charred nearly 1.3 million acres (520,000 hectares) this year, five times what is normal.
“The scope of #Portugal fires is astounding,” tweeted Steve Bowen, a meteorologist for reinsurer Aon Benfield.