Emergency services prepare for Hurricane Lorenzo. Photograph:( Reuters )
Speaking to reporters, Neves said the hurricane is southwest of the island of Flores and it will affect the remaining western islands.
Hurricane Lorenzo has reached Portugal's Azores islands and is already causing strong winds and a few minor incidents across the mid-Atlantic archipelago, authorities said early on Wednesday.
"Right now the hurricane has already arrived in the Azores because we are already being affected by it," said Carlos Neves, the president of the Azores' civil protection authority.
Speaking to reporters, Neves said the hurricane is southwest of the island of Flores and it will affect the remaining western islands at around 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
The hurricane, packing 155-kph winds, is likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, with only a slow weakening forecast over the next 48 hours, US forecaster the National Hurricane Center said.
Neves said five minor incidents, such as fallen trees, have been reported so far.
Despite weakening from a Saturday peak, Lorenzo is still a strong Category 2 hurricane but will downgrade to a Category 1 as it continues to follow its path, Portugal's meteorological agency IPMA has said.
Schools and non-emergency public services will be closed on Wednesday, the regional government has said, with ports on some islands also shut.
Authorities closed numerous streets and roads in the Azores as a precautionary measure.
Five minor incidents, including fallen trees, had been reported, while more than 300 firefighters had been put on alert.
"The situation will worsen in the next few hours," Vasco Cordeiro, the president of the regional government, told Portuguese TV channel SIC, as winds strengthened in Flores, which IPMA expects will be the worst hit. The island has about 4,000 inhabitants.