Weathermen bring more bad news for France

Hopes that France's long, hard winter would be followed by a warm, sunny spring have been well and truly washed out after a weekend of heavy rain and storms. The country's weather agency says more bad weather is on the way.

Weathermen bring more bad news for France
Tourists walk under the rain at the feet of the Eiffel Tower on May 16, 2013 in Paris. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

After the long, cold winter which saw much of the country hit by snow the French are crying out for some sun, but it seems they will have to wait a while yet.

After staying away for much of winter and spring the sun is still not ready to make a regular appearance in France.

According to Météo France, the national weather agency, the heavy rain that kept most people trapped in doors over last weekend’s Pentecost holiday is to continue until the end of the month, meaning that Spring 2013 is set to be one of the coldest in the last 20 years.

And even the normally sunny Mediterranean has been affected by the foul weather.

The Cannes Film Festival, is normally basked in sunshine but if you looked at images of stars taking shelter under umbrellas as this year's event, you could be forgiven for thinking it was being held in Caen, Normandy rather than Cannes on the Mediterranean.

According to Météo France, temperatures in northern France for the first half of May 2013 were two degrees below average temperatures  recorded for this time of year.

And apart from Brittany in the west of the country average temperatures have been down right across France.

The period has also been marked by heavy rainfall, which lead to severe flooding of the Seine river in the region around Troyes earlier this month.

It has rained for a up to eight consecutive days in parts of northern France and in parts of the east residents have had no less than 12 successive days of downpours.

With Météo France predicting no improvement until next Wednesday, T-shirts and shorts will have to be stored away for a while longer.

France's tourism industry has been severely impacted by the bad weather and those in the industry are just hoping things will improve by the summer holidays.

"The industry is believed to have suffered losses of around 10 percent," Didier Arine director of agency Protourisme told French daily Le Parisien.

"Generally we cannot make up for the losses and if the horrible weather continues there is a risk the French will head abroad for heir summer holidays," Arino continued.

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Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.