The worst of the flooding struck the capital city of Funchal on the island's southern side, which was dealt the heaviest rainfall owing to the storm's southerly wind flow. The runoff poured down the south slopes of the island's mountain spine to burst through Funchal and its surroundings. Peaks soar to 6,000 feet above sea level within a few miles north of the city.
The Associated Press reports the death toll has surpassed 40.
A storm and trailing cold front triggered the torrential rainfall. The storm was one in a series of such storms that have lately targeted Spain and Portugal, Morocco and even the Canary Islands with flooding rain and high winds. These storms have been bolstered by an usually strong temperature contrast of the sea surface across the Atlantic Ocean. Abnormally warm waters have been widespread off West Africa whereas relatively cold surface waters have stretched between western Europe and the southeastern United States.
Any additional rainfall through midweek should be light. However, there is some potential for another strong, rain-laden storm to cross the area on Friday into Saturday.
Story by Accuweather.com Senior Meteorologists Dave Samuhel and Jim Andrews.