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The Portuguese Atlantic

Portugal is on the eastern shore of the Atlantic, that swath of coastline and coastal plain that blows back up inland from the hard ocean through the gut of the country up and across the Iberian Peninsula. Like many other geographies along the latitudes and longitudes of the Atlantic shoreline, the Portuguese corner is a jutting getty of rock poking out into the swinging clock arm of eroding winds that whip around the washtub basin of the ocean. The trade winds and westerlies agitate the banheira between the continents to their meteorological extremities. The stony shoreline of mountainous serras protects the fertile agricultural flatlands deposited as airborne silt as the ocean crashes against the shore.

The climate on the Portuguese part of the Iberian peninsula gyrates between wet and dry seasons as the earth’s rotation pushes the winds and weather across the Atlantic. The pendulum swings between cold winds and sheeting rains that hammer the coast and run up to the mountainous serra, falling in freezing snow during the harshest part of the interior northern winter; before the land is eventually dried out to the shoreline, blistering in spontaneous combustion under the hot naked summer sun.

Considering the peninsula’s geography and atmospherics, Portugal shares its weather with the north Atlantic during the winter, and then as the equator shifts to the sun during the summer, Portugal belongs to north Africa.

Back where I am from, there are four distinct weather changes split up among the equinoxes. Each season is marked with a particular color and a typical temperature range. There are long stretches when the weather is sweet and docile, but the extremes are dramatic. From muggy tropical humidity to sub-arctic cold, with destructive weather patterns within the spectrum that are powerful enough to destroy buildings and reshape natural features, and where it is expected that the weather will leave death in its wake among populations of the weak, the stupid and the brave.

In the Portuguese mountainous interior the dry summer usually sparks forest fires that take lives and burn down the land and habitats, but on the Atlantic coast about Lisbon it may be rainy every day during the winter or stupefyingly hot a few weeks over a summer where the sun shines for several months straight, but usually only coastal sailors and fishermen have anything to fear from the weather.

Every now and then though, you hear a news report about someone, who, while walking along the shoreline, got enveloped in a wave and was carried out to sea.

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