Hurricane Gordon causes minor damage in Azores, losing intensity

LISBON Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:49am EDT

LISBON (Reuters) - Hurricane Gordon caused only minor flooding and power outages as it hit the two eastern-most islands of Portugal's Azores archipelago early on Monday and was losing its strength as it headed towards continental Europe.

Gordon was expected to weaken to a post-tropical cyclone later in the day, according to forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami.

There was little property damage aside from some broken doors and windows, and no reports of injuries in the Azores, about 1,000 miles west of the Portuguese coast.

The Atlantic islands are a popular tourism destination and are particularly busy at this time of year.

Power supply was re-established after brief outages in a few locations, but some roads remained blocked by fallen trees.

"We were ready for the worst, but luckily it wasn't as bad as expected," said Jose Bolieiro, mayor of the archipelago's largest city of Ponta Delgada, on the eastern island of Sao Miguel. "We only had small damage from rain and winds."

Civil protection services had been put on alert before Gordon made landfall on the islands of Santa Maria and Sao Miguel, but were stood down after the hurricane passed, local officials said. Winds blew at 75 mph (120 km/h), with gusts reaching 105 mph (170 km/h).

Gordon had lost intensity after passing over colder waters before hitting the Azores and was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane from Category 2. Category 1 hurricanes have enough strength to uproot trees, blow off poorly attached roof tiles and cause coastal flooding and power outages.

(Reporting By Andrei Khalip; Editing by Pravin Char)

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