Swathes of France on alert for floods as public warned to be vigilant

Swathes of France including Paris and Normandy are on alert for floods after exceptionally high rainfall across the country in recent days. The east of the country was braced for floods with the Rhine threatening to overflow.

Swathes of France on alert for floods as public warned to be vigilant
Illustration pic. Photo: AFP
On Tuesday morning 30 departments across France were placed on orange alert for floods by France's national weather agency Meteo France.
Orange is the second highest alert and when in place people are advised “to be very vigilant” because of the risk of dangerous weather. 
In addition to Paris, Normandy, the south west and swathes of the east are the most affected areas. 
The departments on alert are: Ain, Rhone, Doubs, Isère, Jura, Savoy, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Dordogne, Gironde, Lot-et-Garonne, Nièvre, Yonne, Seine-et-Marne, Paris and the area immediately outside the city known as the “Petite Couronne”, Haute-Marne, Yvelines, Val-d'Oise, Oise and the departments Normandy (except the Channel), Meuse, Vosges, Haute-Saone and Meurthe-et-Moselle.
Map: Meteo France
Doubs and Jura were lowered from red alert (the highest warning) on Tuesday morning. 
On France's border with Germany, officials were preparing to divert the Rhine into a 600-hectare (1480-acre) flooding containment zone if necessary,
with potential snow melt adding to the risk of flooding.
Officials were warning the flooding could also prompt power outages, while several dikes were also said to be at risk of failing.
In the town of Ornans in eastern France, a siren Monday morning warned residents of the rapidly rising Loue river.
“The main street is flooded, and the ground floor at city hall is underwater — we haven't seen such flooding since 2002,” the town's mayor, Sylvain Ducret, told AFP.
Rescue workers in the region were being kept busy, mainly to ensure people didn't drive on flooded roads and help people whose homes had flooded.
In the nearby department of Meurthe-et-Moselle on the border with Luxembourg, rescue services said the damage had been minor so far.
“The rivers aren't rising quickly but steadily after the continued rain these past few days,” the CODIS emergency operations centre for the department said.
“Nothing dramatic, for now,” it added.
About 50 people in the coastal Normandy town of La-Riviere-Saint-Sauveur (population 1,500) were evacuated because of the flooding risks, while overflowing rivers had cut off about a dozen roads near Pont-L'Eveque.
In Paris, the River Seine has already burst its banks and the public have been warned to keep away as the level continues to rise. The quays along the river have been closed until further notice.
The level of the river Seine in Paris rose from 4.57 metres on Monday to 4.82 metres by Tuesday morning and is expected to keep rising until Wednesday when it could reach 5.7 metres, almost four metres about its normal level of 2 metres.
Naturally people have taken to Twitter to post photos and videos of the flooding in their area. 
The tweet below shows flooding in the Eure department in Normandy.
And below one Twitter user posted an amazing before and after shot of the Alsace village of Ebermunster in eastern France, which has experienced severe floods in recent days.  
In the village of Ornans in the eastern Doubs department people were also contending with floods (see tweets below).
Meanwhile in Jura in eastern France the floodwaters were also rising. 
And floods are not the only extreme weather France has been experiencing. On Monday more than 100 chalets in Chamonix, one of France's best known ski resorts near Mont Blanc, were evacuated Monday and hundreds of people were told to stay indoors because of avalanche risks.


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.