Storm warnings spread across western France

France's national weather agency has issued further weather warnings as thunderstorms approach the country from the west.

Storm warnings spread across western France
Thunder, lightning, and hail are forecast to hit north-western France on Wednesday night. Photo: AFP
France's weather agency Météo France issued an “orange warning” for a further 12 départements in France in its 4pm bulletin on Wednesday. These take the total number of départements on alert to 19.
The reason? Thunder and hail storms are approaching from the west. 
The agency warned that there would be lightning, strong winds, and enough rain to cause potential flash flooding in people's cellars. It warned residents to avoid taking shelter under trees, and to avoid using the telephone or electrical appliances. 

(Photo: AFP)
An Orange warning is the second highest warning level and asks the public to be “very vigilant”.
The areas since the morning are Finistère, Côtes-d'Armor, Ille-et-Vilaine, Manche, Calvados, Orne, and Mayenne – all in the north and north west of France. Météo France added Seine-Maritime, Eure, and Sarthe to this list in the afternoon.
It also added Charente, Charente-Maritime, Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Gers, and Hautes-Pyrénées – all in the south west of France. See map below.

The storm will hit in the late afternoon and early evening, while the majority of the rest of France will be enjoying a late warm and sunny night (see map below).

By late evening, however, the hail storms are forecast to hit, marked by the letter G in the map below. These storms will remain throughout most of the night and into the early morning, gradually spreading south along France's Atlantic coast. 

And it's bad news for the rest of the country on Thursday, as the storms will push towards the east throughout the day. The map below shows France in the early evening on Thursday. 

(All photos and maps: Météo France)

The weather forecast is also bad news for stargazers, with Wednesday night said to be the best opportunity to see this year's Perseid meteor shower (if only the weather remains clear).

If you're in a part of France without clouds, here are some tips to catch what's been dubbed as one of the best celestial events in years.


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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.