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WEATHER

Temperatures to hit scorching 29C in France this weekend

The summer is back in full force in France this weekend, with temperatures expected to reach a scorching 29C in parts of the country as Hurricane Ophelia sweeps across western Europe.

Temperatures to hit scorching 29C in France this weekend
The beach in Biarritz where temperatures are expected to hit 29C this weekend. Photo: AFP
The unseasonably hot weather is set to hit the south on Friday morning, before spreading across the entire country throughout the course of the afternoon, according to national weather agency Meteo France
 
And in the southwestern seaside town of Biarritz, where temperatures are set to hit 29C, parasols will no doubt be getting a somewhat unexpected autumnal outing. 
 
In Paris, people can expect the mercury to reach unseasonably warm highs of 22C, and in Lyon and Marseille, temperatures are set to hit 25C and 22C, respectively. 
 
Friday afternoon's weather map. Photo: Meteo France 
 
In general, temperatures are expected to exceed seasonal norms by as much as 10C, with nearly the whole of the country expecting sunshine on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
 
Partly responsible for the unusual weather is Hurricane Ophelia, which is pulling the hot temperatures of North Africa, Spain and Portugal along its path.
 
Weather in France on Saturday afternoon. Photo: AFP
 
The arrival of Ophelia, which is set to hit the length of western Europe this weekend, marks the first time the continent has been touched by a hurricane since 1961.

CLIMATE CRISIS

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.

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