Heavy Rains – Floods

Although Portugal has many months of dry hot weather, the autumn and winter can bring heavy rain. As the ground can be hard, rain water cannot soak into the ground – hence it accumulates giving rise to flooding in some areas. This page helps you protect yourself and property in case of flooding. The contact details on the right are the main agencies in Portugal that are involved in flooding prevention and the issue of warnings.

Although lightning can occur without rainfall, there is important advice on this page on what action to take when there is lightning and first aid treatment for victims of lightning strikes.

What to expect

The ANEPC (Civil Protection Authority) advises in periods of high winds and heavy rain people may experience:

  • Slippery roads and eventual accumulation of ground water;
  • Possibility of flash floods in urban areas, by accumulation of rainwater or inadequacy of drainage systems;
  • Possibility of overflowing of water lines/rivers in areas historically most vulnerable;
  • Flooding of underground urban structures with drainage deficiencies, especially those occourring during periods of high tide;
  • Damage to mounted or suspended structures.

Reducing the Risk

Due to the possibility of falling branches or trees because of strong winds the ANEPC advises that the risk to individuals and properties can be reduced by taking the following measures, particularly in areas which historically are more vulnerable by:

  • Ensuring the clearing of drainage systems of rainwater and removing objects that can be dragged or create obstacles to water drainage;
  • Driving carefully by, reducing speed and taking special care with possible accumulation of snow and formation of ground water on the roads. Do not cross flooded areas by vehicle or on foot to avoid becoming trapped in holes or open sewage covers which have become dislodged by flood waters;
  • If a snow warning, carry snow chains on vehicles, if entering an area likely to be snowfall;
  • Ensuring proper fastening of loose structures, namely, scaffolding, and placards and other structures;
  • Taking special care in the movement and those living to wooded areas, and be alert to the possibility of falling branches and trees, due to stronger winds;
  • Taking special care if walking or driving along coastlines and coastal areas historically more vulnerable to coastal waves. It is best to avoid these routes in high winds and rainfall;
  • Refrain from activities related to the sea, including fishing, water rides and sea sports, and avoid parking close to sea fronts;
  • Listen to weather information and alerts by the ANEPC Civil Protection Authority and IPMA

In addition Safe Communities Portugal recommends the following

  • Using headlights and avoid driving too closely to the vehicle in front;
  • At times when the weather alert is “Extreme” (Red alert) consider if your journey is really necessary.
  • Check with elderly neighbours especially those living alone if they are alright.
  • Be aware of flooding and take precautionary measures where possible, be aware that underground basements and underpasses on roads can be more liable to flooding.


Always use the rule of 30 seconds to determine the level of threat of lightning. This rule is simple and consists of counting the seconds between the lightning sight and hearing of their sound (thunder).

If this value is less than 30 seconds seek shelter immediately and follow the steps below: this means that the storm is close enough to reach your location.

During the storm:

  • If at home stay away from windows – close the curtains and blinds to avoid the shrapnel pitch;
  • Turn off (unplug) the television, computer and other electrical appliances – you can, however, keep the light on since it does not increase the likelihood of your home being struck by lightning;
  • Avoid showering or leave water running for any other purpose;
  • If in the street away from buildings, move into a car, not convertible, and avoid contact with metal;
  • Avoid using phones, except in case of emergency;
  • Never take shelter under vulnerable objects such as a tall tree in a secluded area;
  • Do not stand on top of a hill, in the open, or on the beach;
  • Move away from the water: fish and do not walk in small boats;
  • Stay away from metal objects and remove any piece of metal that can bring – the metals are great conductors of electricity;
  • Stay away from tractors or other metal equipment such as motorcycles or bicycles;
  • Stay away from networks and metal pipes, railway lines or any other metal course that can lead to electrical shock from a considerable distance;
  • Avoid shelter in isolated huts or any other small structures in open field;
  • If you are in a forest area seek shelter in a low-lying area under a dense set of bushes;
  • If you are in the open, seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ravine or a valley – never lie down on the open.

Never stand under a tall, isolated tree. Most of the victims of the storms are reached when seeking shelter under a tree. Check that it is not the highest altitude in the surrounding area. Move down to the lowest possible point and away from tall objects and vulnerable. If the lightning reaches any of these objects it can take the shock of the electric discharge through the ground.

First Aid

  • If a person is struck by lightning means not carrying any electrical charge and, as such, it can be touched. It has suffered a violent electric shock and provide some burns;
  • Many victims apparently “killed” by lightning may be revived if the rescue action is fast. When a group is reached first bail must be who apparently lost their lives; unconscious individuals but to breathe, probably survive;
  • The action distress to those who do not breathe should be made until 4-6 minutes after the shock to prevent irreversible damage to the brain. once every 5 seconds in adults and in every 3 seconds in children should be given mouth-to-mouth:
  • If the victim is not breathing and has no pulse should be given to you at the Resuscitation Cardio-pulmonary (CPR). This maneouver results from a combination of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and external cardiac compressions and should be done, if possible, by persons qualified to do so;
  • Check if the victim has burns on his extremities and around areas in contact with metal.


Towards the end of the year the Portuguese mainland can be affected by cyclones travelling eastwards across the Atlantic. It is important to keep track of these as they can cause considerable damage.

During an approaching cyclone

Follow all the recommendations of the competent authorities. Do not spread rumours or exaggerated information about the situation.

• If your home is safe and located at altitude, stay indoors. Leave low-altitude areas at risk of flooding; 
• Abandon mobile (or prefab) homes and move to more substantial shelter; 
• Place crisscross (X-shaped) strips of masking tape on windows to prevent flying shrapnel, and open a window opposite the wind direction to balance pressures; 
• Do not open the curtains, they serve as protection against splinters; 
• Place boards, or strong blinds, in large windows;
Store some water for consumption, and for sanitary purposes, in bathtubs, jars, bottles or other deposits;

• Set the fridge to the maximum cooling level and open it only when necessary; 
• Close all gas tanks; 
• Turn off all unnecessary devices and keep the radio connected to batteries in order to receive information and instructions from the competent authorities; 
• Collect all objects that could be thrown by the wind from the front of your house and secure those that are too large or heavy in a safe place; 
• Always have waterproof clothing at hand; 
• Cover with waterproof material all objects that could be damaged in contact with water; 
• Make sure your car has enough fuel and that the battery is in good condition.


During the Cyclone

 Stay at home, on the lowest floor and in the interior room, and away from windows; 
• Close all interior doors and reinforce exterior ones;
If the wind calms down, do not leave the house, it is probably the passage of the “eye” (center) of the hurricane, strong winds can return at any time; 
• Constantly monitor the flood level near your house; 
• In case the wind becomes more violent, place yourself under a sturdy piece of furniture or a mattress;
• If you are caught in the street, stay away from trees, poles or walls, and protect your head.


All prevention and protection information is from the ANEPC and official resources