Mercury rising: Heatwave set to hit France

After all the gloomy predictions of a summer wash out France is basking under the sun, and the mercury is set to rise even further with a heat wave set to hit the country next week.

Mercury rising: Heatwave set to hit France
Children cool down in the southern French city of Montpellier. Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 38° during next week's heat wave. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

Just weeks ago the doom merchants predicted that the summer of 2013 would be another damp squib. After a cold winter and a spring which saw record low temperatures in some parts of France, most people had already written off the chances of seeing the sun this summer.

But with temperatures already into the 30s, the school holidays in full swing, and Paris about to be turned into one big beach, the summer  we had hoped for is well and truly here.

And the good news, or the bad news, is that it's only going to get hotter, according to forecasters.

A heat wave which currently has the UK in its grip, is set to hit France on Monday. 

Forecasters from France's weather site Meteo News say temperatures across the country, which are already two degrees higher than normal, will rise further next week.

In the northern half of France, the mercury could hit 36°C and in the south it is predicted to reach 38°C during next week's heat wave.

French weather channel La Chaine Meteo says the heat wave, known as a "canicule" in France could last until next Friday, after which "cooler air will arrive from the west". The end of the episode is likely to see fierce thunderstorms, La Chaine Meteo predicts.

This map from La Chaine Météo shows the current weather situation in France (left) and
next week's forecast for severe heat to envelop the country (right).

Every summer when there is talk of a "canicule" in France, it sparks fears of a repeat of the infamous summer of 2003 when around 15,000 people, mostly elderly, died as temperatures soared.  

Most victims died alone in their homes, after being left unchecked and unable to fend for themselves.

Families were still finding their bodies weeks later when they went to visit their elderly relatives. The national tragedy sparked a period of soul searching in France over the state of its health care and its treatment of the elderly population.

Once again authorities are issuing advice on what to do in the sweltering weather.

People are advised to drink water regularly, even when not thirsty, in order to remain hydrated. It is also wise to avoid any physical exertion and try to cool down as often as possible by taking cold showers.

The general advice is to keep the air conditioning on during the day and get the windows open at night.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


UPDATE: Swathes of France on alert for snow and ice as Siberian chill bites

French weather authorities have placed swathes of France on alert for snow and ice, violent winds and flooding as the big chill which has gripped the country in recent days drags on. But spring is just days away.

UPDATE: Swathes of France on alert for snow and ice as Siberian chill bites
The snow covered beach in Biarritz. Photo: AFP
Freezing weather continued to grip France on Wednesday, with temperatures down to -12C expected in northern France and -6C in the usually mild south, according to national weather agency Meteo France
In total, 58 departments in France are currently on orange alert — the second highest weather warning — for snow and ice, violent winds and flooding (see below). 
People in these departments have been advised to be very vigilant during the dangerous weather conditions. 
Map: Meteo France
Montpellier airport and Nimes airport in southern France are both closed as a result of the weather conditions. 
Biarritz in France's Basque country in the south west woke up to a blanket of snow several centimetres deep on Wednesday morning and people didn't waste any time capturing images of its snowy beaches (see below). 
Indeed, Tuesday night in France was the coldest of the winter, according to Meteo France, with the lowest temperatures seen in the central city of Lyon (-10C) and Metz in eastern France where it was an even chillier -12C. 

But while some are reveling in the unusual weather, others are struggling. 
Several flights flights out of Biarritz airport have been canceled and in Bayonne, also in the Basque Country, all lines have been suspended on the city's transport network. 
The town's beach, normally packed with sunseekers in the summer was left under a blanket of snow on Wednesday.
(Photo: François Xavier MENOU/Twitter)
A few brave swimmers braved the sea.
It was the same scene at snow-covered beach of Palavas Les Flots near Montpellier on the south coast (see images below).
On top of that the blanket of snow coating the A63 motorway, which leads to Spain, has led to several accidents. 
The Red Cross, which has set up emergency teams across Europe, also issued public appeals for 10,000 blankets in France, where about 50 local officials in the Paris region have vowed to spend Tuesday night outdoors to call attention to the plight of those with nowhere to sleep.
So far, four homeless people have died during this spell of icy weather. 
However the Siberian chill isn't set to last for long. 
After the snowfall spreads to the north of the country throughout the day on Thursday temperatures are expected to warm up quickly.
In the Basque country on Thursday, the snow will quickly be replaced by sun and the mercury is expected to rise to 17C.
Météo France forecaster Patrick Gallois said the rise in temperatures would be swift as France passes from winter to Spring in just 24 hours. Gallois told AFP that temperatures will rise by 10 degrees in just one day as the tweet below shows.
By Sunday the mercury is set to rise to around 15C in most of central and southern France.
Here are some more images of Biarritz in the snow.