Freitas, J.G., and Dias, J.A., 2013. 1941 windstorm effects on the Portuguese Coast. What lessons for the future?
On February 15, 1941, the Iberian Peninsula was struck by a devastating windstorm. Human and material losses were significant. Coastal areas were among the most affected. Storm surge caused by strong wind and low atmospheric pressures favoured overwash occurrence. Unlike other past catastrophic events, there is abundant information on the 1941 windstorm. Historical sources – newspapers, survivor's testimonies and official institutions reports - allowed us to realize its impact on territory and on populations. Until today 1941 phenomenon is still the biggest known storm. However, what happened then is almost forgotten. But, it can happen again. Sesimbra and Ria Formosa coastal areas are excellent case studies to understand what happened on the windstorm day and to discuss what could happen if an event like this reaches those regions again. The analysed data lead to the conclusion that the consequences would be even more devastating. First, because the current urbanization level is much higher. Second, Sesimbra and Ria Formosa are as vulnerable (or even more) to extreme events as they were in 1941. Third, its inhabitants have no “risk memory” and therefore have no concept of the danger inherent to seashore occupation. Preserving the memory of such events can be a way of preparing people for new disasters and to get authorities to take concrete measures to mitigate their effects.