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WEATHER

France floods: Red alert warnings issued as river levels rise

The rain continued to fall across much of France at the weekend and left parts of the country, including Normandy, on alert for flooding. The public are warned to be vigilant.

France floods: Red alert warnings issued as river levels rise
Illustration Photo: AFP

In all, some 29 departments in various parts of France were place on orange alert by Météo France on Monday morning for the risk of flooding, downpours and avalanches.

But in eastern France the Doubs and Jura were placed on red alert – the highest level of warning – for dangerous flooding. Météo France advised residents to remain in doors and avoid all unnecessary travel. If people have to make a journey they must take all necessary precautions and follow any road diversions that have been put in place,” Météo France says.

The warning is due to the river Loue, which runs through both departments, having burst its banks.

The map below shows the other areas of France on orange – the second highest warning level – for flooding, which include Normandy as well as Paris and the surrounding Île de France region.

Swathes of south west and north eastern France were also on flood warnings as downpours continued throughout Monday across much of the country.

 

 

 

In the east the departments of Ain, Doubs, Isère, Jura, Savoie and Haute-Savoie were place on alert for downpours and Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Isère were also placed on alert for the risk of avalanches.

In Chamonix, one of France's best known Alpine ski resorts, more than 100 chalets near Mont Blanc were evacuated Monday and hundreds of people were told to stay indoors because of avalanche risks.

In those areas at risk from downpours and flooding the public are advised to take precaution when travelling. Avoid the edges of rivers and not to risk driving cars through flooded roads. 

Flood warnings are expected to remain in place throughout the day.

In Paris the public were warned to keep away from the river banks as the level of the Seine continued to rise. The quays along the river have been closed until further notice.

Paris on alert as River Seine breaks banks and keeps on rising

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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