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WEATHER

France set for mild start to winter

It doesn't look like it's about to get cold any time soon in France.

France set for mild start to winter
Winter clothes in the sunshine? Just might happen. Photo: AFP

No need to dig out the winter jackets in France just yet.

At least, that’s according to the latest long-term predictions from national weather agency Météo France. 

The agency said that there was a fifty percent chance the coming months would be warmer than usual.

Its three-month prognosis added that there was just a 20 percent chance of a cold start to winter. 

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Indeed, France is right in the middle of a large swathe of European countries that is expected to see a warmer autumn and winter than usual (see image below).

Météo France added that the drought affecting areas around the Mediterranean Sea was likely to continue.

As the map below shows, much of the southern reaches of France has a 50 percent chance of dryer than usual conditions, as will the entire Mediterranean area.

The agency stressed that seasonal forecasts were highly variable, so be sure to take the tips with a pinch of salt. But if you're playing the odds, think twice about any plans to go ice skating on a frozen River Seine in Paris this winter. 

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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