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UPDATED: Parts of France placed on alert for snow and ice

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UPDATED: Parts of France placed on alert for snow and ice
Photo: AFP
10:49 CET+01:00
France has been hit by a spell of wintery weather with nine departments across the country on alert for snow and ice.
Some parts of the country have turned into a veritable winter wonderland, but that comes with its own hazards.
 
Eleven departments have been placed on orange alert -- the second highest warning -- for snow and ice by national weather agency Meteo France
 
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Map: Meteo France
 
Initially people in these departments: Ariège, Cantal, Corrèze, Creuse, Haute-Garonne, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Hautes-Pyrénées and Var, are advised "to be very vigilant" because "dangerous conditions are expected". Drivers are advised to be particularly cautious.
 
Then Méteo France added the two south west departments of Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence to the list of areas on alert.
 
In the Var department in the south between 5cm and 10cm of snow is expected on Friday evening while in the Pyrennees the heavy snowfalls that happened overnight are expected to continue on Friday morning.
 
In the Massif Central inhabitants of Clermont-Ferrand wok up to around 8cm of snow.
 
Much of the rest of the country is on yellow alert, the third highest warning and people are advised "to be careful and stay up-to-date with the situation".
 
The current alerts are expected to remain in place until Saturday at 6am. 
 
Many people in France woke up to a blanket of snow on Friday morning, with Meteo France calling it the "first remarkable snow episode of the season which requires particular vigilance".
 
The news of France's snowfall may justifiably come as a surprise, with this being the first time snow has been expected so early in the year since 2010.
 
"It's been seven years since we've had such early snow," said Pascal Scaviner, head of the forecast service at the Weather Channel, according to Le Parisien.
 
While the mountains in France have already had their fair share of snow, between Wednesday and Sunday it is expected to fall on lower ground around the country.
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