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WEATHER

Weather warning: Storms and downpours to continue in France

France has been lashed by violent storms for the past few weeks and 28 more departments were on alert on Tuesday. Forecasters say the lightning, thunder, hail and downpours are set to last a while longer.

Weather warning: Storms and downpours to continue in France
AFP

Since mid-May France has been battered by a series of storms that have affected most of the country.

Departments have taken it in turn to be on alert as thunder, lightning, hail showers and downpours have repeatedly swept across the country.
 
Some areas like Finistere in Brittany and Bas-Rhin department in the east have seen severe flash flooding. On Tuesday a 35-year-old man was found dead in his car in Eure, Normandy after it was submerged during flooding. The area had been hit by storms on Monday evening.
 
 
 
To put the stormy period in context, the month of May saw 182,000 lightning strikes touch the ground. That's double the previous record for a month of May. 
 
Two of those strikes hit the Eiffel Tower in Paris and made for some impressive photos. Watch the video here.
 
Video: Watch the Eiffel Tower get hit by lightning (again) as storms lash Paris
 
There has been a deluge of stories about a week's rainfall falling in just a matter of minutes.
 
Vineyard owners in the south west and the Champagne region in the north east have seen their crops destroyed by hail storms an downpours.
 
And the stormy period is not over just yet.
 
On Tuesday 28 departments were placed on storm and flooding alert in central and southern France.
 
Map: Meteo France 
 
Meteo France is warning that the storms could be particularly violent and be accompanied by hail showers and severe downpours particularly in the departments of Auvergne, Ain and Isere.
 
Gusts of wind of up to 90km/h can be expected.
 
Forecasters say the stormy period is set to last throughout the week, the coming weekend and even into next week so it's worth keeping an eye on the alerts to see if your department is in for some extreme weather.
 
“We can't see any kind of lull,” says Météo France forecaster Etienne Kapikan who described the weather situation as “blocked”.
 
The maps below show the storms forecast for Wednesday and then Thursday across France.
 
 
Méteo France have forecast storms to continue to lash France into the week of June 11th to 17th.
 
Forecasters blame the intense and lasting stormy period on a clash between high pressure weather from the north and low pressure from the south.
 
Northern Europe has experienced above average temperatures for May, which has helped create an atmosphere more likely to turn stormy, said Kapikan.
 
The unseasonably warm weather that has baked Germany in recent weeks has helped boost temperatures in France, particularly in the north and east, which has resulted in storms given the humidity in the atmosphere.
 
The temperature for May is 1.3C above average and 2C above average for the north of the country.
 
On the other hand departments in the south west have experienced an average month of May in terms of temperatures.

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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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