Violent storms and heavy rain set to hit southern France

Parts of southern France have been placed on alert for with violent storms set to hit the region on Thursday afternoon.

Violent storms and heavy rain set to hit southern France
Photo: Thomas Bresson/Flickr
The south central departments of Herault and Aude were placed on orange alert – the second highest warning – at around 6am on Thursday morning by national weather agency Meteo France
The orange alert for violent storms means the public are advised to be “very vigilant” especially when out and about and people are advised to take shelter when the storm is approaching.
The weather agency has called this the “first significant episode of the season”, warning of the risk of “strong thunderstorms and sustained rainfall”. 
Map: Meteo France 
The areas set to be impacted the most are the east of the Aude and a the western half of the Hérault.
Since Wednesday afternoon the hills to the north of Herault have been lashed by “often continuous and sometimes strong rain” says Météo France.
The agency warns that during Thursday there will be more rain on these hills which could be accompanied by lightning, strong wind and hail. 


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.