France shivers under cold front as first snow of season arrives

Temperatures took a dip across France on Tuesday as the first seasonal chill arrived and with it came snow on high ground. And it looked spectacular.

France shivers under cold front as first snow of season arrives
Sheep feed in a snow covered field in the French Alps on Sunday. Photo: AFP
France's Indian summer appears to be officially over as temperatures plummeted across the country and the first snow of the season arrived in the mountains. 
On Tuesday morning much of the country awoke to a chill in the air with temperatures between 0 and -2C in central parts of the country.
While the west and the south were spared the first real frosty morning of the season the regions of Île-de-France, Hauts-de-France and Central-Val-de-Loire as well as the east of the country all experienced a drop in temperatures.
The drop in temperatures has brought with it the first snow of the season on high ground.
On Sunday night, snow returned to the French Alps, as well as Jura in the east and the Massif Central in the south, signalling the beginning of the colder weather. 
On the Chamrousse resort in Isère in the French Alps there was about 15 centimeters of snowfall (see below). 
The snow could continue until Thursday, according to Météo France.
But despite the quick turnaround in weather conditions, the winter ahead is expected to be a mild one in France.
According to the latest long-term predictions from national weather agency Météo France there was a fifty percent chance the coming months would be warmer than usual.
But the agency stressed that seasonal forecasts were highly variable, so be sure to take the tips with a pinch of salt.


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.