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WEATHER

Wind, waves and snow: Public warned as extreme weather lashes France

The public have been advised to take precaution across a huge swathe of France on Monday as violent storms lash the country.

Wind, waves and snow: Public warned as extreme weather lashes France
AFP

A total of 34 departments are on Orange alert – the second highest level of weather warning – for violent storms, high winds, downpours, avalanches and high coastal waves.

The are advised to take precaution and avoid any unnecessary journeys.

On Sunday northern France was hit by fierce storms which left 20,000 homes without power an forced  ferry to run aground in the port of Calais.

According to the latest figures by energy providers Enedis, some 120,000 homes were without power on Monday, including 90,000 in the Pays de la Loire.

On Monday the north including the departments of Pas-de-Calais and Somme could see snowfalls.

In the west storm Ana will see winds reach up to 130 km/h in certain areas along the Charentes Maritimes coast. Those living in Nouvelle Aquitaine region of the south west have been warned to expect huge coastal waves.

In the east there will be heavy rain and high winds and the Alps should see some heavy snowfalls above 1,500m in altitude with gale force winds.

The Mediterranean coast will also be hit by high coastal waves which could cause flooding inland. The public are advised to avoid venturing near the water.

The map below shows which parts of France are on alert for which kind of extreme weather.

 

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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