The Portugese Azores islands are located 1500 km from the European continent with an erratic but comfortable weather pattern that blankets these 9 Portuguese islands. The fact that these 9 islands are located in the North Atlantic and still have a mild year round climate is due to the fact that it is effected by the gulf stream winds that pass through. The weather fluctuates from on average 14.5 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius being the norm. Portugal is considered to be the sunniest country in Europe with over 3000 hours of sunlight annually, with the Azores islands considered to have the warmest winters in all of Europe. This has made these 9 magical islands increasingly popular in the winter months with northern European vacationers. The islands are divided into 3 different regions with Santa Maria and Sao Miguel representing the Eastern group, Graciosa, Faial, Pico, Terceira and Sao Jorge representing the Central group and Horta and Corvo representing the Western group.The 3 regions also represent more or less the various weather patterns that effect the various regions. It is not common for weather effecting the eastern group of islands to have no effect on the western group of islands and vice versa. The winter months are relativly mild with no snow or frost ever reported on land, however it does rain a lot from January until March so it is recommended to always have an umbrella handy. The weather here can change quickly and varies at different points on the island. It would not be uncommon to have rain in one part of the island and then to drive 10 minutes and have clear skies and sunshine, it is why the Azores are known to have the 4 seasons all in the same day.All 9 islands are volcanic in origin, however there are debates whether Santa Maria is since it has white sand beaches and has no record of volcanic activity in recorded history. It is said that the islands started to form over 8 million years ago through volcanic eruptions on the ocean floor. The 9 islands lay between 3 of the worlds tectonic plates the North American plate, the Euroasian plate and the African plate causing minor earthquakes throughout their history.The Azores are known for small hurricanes and tropical storms. A total of 14 tropical or subtropical cyclones have affected the region in history. Most of them were tropical storms when they impacted the region, although several Category 1 hurricanes have reached the Azores. The following storms have impacted the region while at Category 1 strength: Hurricane Fran in 1973, Hurricane Emmy in 1976, Hurricane Gordon in 2006, Hurricane Gordon in 2012 and Hurricane Alex in 2016. Several tropical storms have hit the region, including Tropical Storm Irma in 1978, Hurricane Bonnie in 1992, Hurricane Charley in 1992, Hurricane Erika in 1997, and Hurricane Gaston in 2016. Storms that were extra-tropical when they impacted the region include Hurricane Tanya in 1995, Tropical Storm Ana in 2003 and Tropical Storm Grace in 2009. In addition, in 2005 the famous Azores subtropical storm impacted the region in October 2005, which ended up being milder then expected by the time it reached the Azores.