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Heavy snow causes chaos in central France

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Heavy snow causes chaos in central France
Cars and trucks come to a snarl on November 20, 2013 on the A47 highway due to snow in Saint-Chamond near the central French city of Saint-Etienne. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP
16:55 CET+01:00
UPDATED: As many as 25 departments in southwestern and central France were on alert on Wednesday as the first wave of winter weather hit the country. Tens of thousands were hit with power cuts and roads and rail transport were hit by delays.

LATEST: 

  • 25 departments in France have now been placed on Orange alert after heavy snow caused chaos across the the centre of the country. Various roads are reported to be blocked including the A47 towards St Etienne. (see below)
  • Around 220,000 homes have reportedly been hit with power cuts in central France after heavy snowfalls hit the region. Residents in the Rhone Alpes, Burgundy and Auvergne regions have been affected by the black-outs. Electricity provider ERDF has mobilized 640 technicians to restore power to affected areas.
  • Roads have also been blocked in the city of St Etienne, which has alsmost come to a stand still with local bus and tram services reportedly unable to operate.
  • The city of Paris is set to bring forward by over a week its annual cold-weather masterplan ("plan grand froid"), in anticipation of continued low temperatures, says TF1. The plan contains provisions for shelter for homeless people in the capital.

Twenty five departments across France  were put on "Orange alert" by the country’s meteorological service Meteo France on Wednesday after heavy snow fell across the centre of the country. The warnings in some areas are set to stay in place until Friday.

As shown in the map below, the 25 departments where severe weather warnings are in place are: Ain, Isère, Haute-Loire, Rhône et la Loire, Allier, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Ardèche, Ardennes, Cantal, Corrèze, Côte-d'Or, Doubs, Drôme, Jura, Haute-Marne, Puy-de-Dôme, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Lorraine.

Earlier in the day Meteo France says snow falls can be expected anywhere above 200 metres in altitude. 

Lyon is also expected to see the first snow falls of the winter and in the east of the Haute Loire department Meteo France are predicting up to 40cm of the snow.

Motorists in Ain and Isere departments have been warned about the knock-on effects of the icy spell on the roads, where the winter weather is expected to cause disruption.  The city of St Etienne in central France was given a healthy covering of wno of Wednesday as seen in this image below.

Residents in St Etienne have been advised to stay at home and to avoid making unnecessary car journeys. 

Train services in the region have been severely hit by the weather  with delays reported on lines in and out and both St Etienne and Lyon towards Grenoble and Chambery.

Meanwhile temperatures across France hovered around zero for much of the morning and were not expected to rise above 7°C during the day. 

Have you been affected by the snow in your region? Send us your images to news@thelocal.fr

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