Heatwave to return to France with temperatures forecast to hit 40C

After enjoying a weekend of respite from the sweltering sun, France is set for a new heatwave this week, with forecasters predicting temperatures will rise to a whopping 40C in the south.

Heatwave to return to France with temperatures forecast to hit 40C
Photo: AFP
The sun and heat are returning to France this week, with nine departments already placed on orange alert — the second highest warning — for heatwaves by the country's national weather agency Meteo France.
The departments concerned are Ardèche, Drôme, Pyrénées-Orientales, Rhône, Alpes-Maritimes, Gard, Hérault, Isère and Vaucluse. 
People in these areas are advised to be very vigilant due to the risk of dangerous weather. The alerts were updated at 4 pm on Monday and are set to remain in place until at least 4 pm on Tuesday. 
Weather map: Meteo France 
The mercury is set to reach a scorching 36C near the town of Montélimar in the Drome department on Monday afternoon.  
But these aren't the only places where people in France will be roasting. 
As of Monday afternoon, temperatures across most of the country are set to exceed 30C, with the city of Grenoble in the French Alps set to reach 35C. 
Weather forecast for Thursday 2 pm – 8 pm. Map: Meteo France 
And from Wednesday things are set to get even hotter, with  “anticyclonic conditions” — a weather phenomenon that sees a large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure which can lead to clear skies and cooler, drier air — meaning that the weather will be very dry. 
This will be particularly true in Normandy in the north east and the heat will intensify as the week progresses, especially in the Rhone Valley.
Temperatures are expected to reach between 37C and 39C in the south east, especially near Marseille and during the week, temperatures could even rise to 40C on the Mediterranean coast.
How to make the most of Paris in the summer heat
Photo: AFP
By the end of the week, sunshine will be widespread across the country, with the mercury set to rise to 35C in the northern half of the country.
French weather site Meteo Villes is predicting a heatwave to take hold on Thursday or Friday and last until the following Tuesday. 
France has already had its fair share of hot weather so far this summer, with the month of July breaking weather records as the hottest July on record after 2006 and 1983.

Temperatures in July in France averaged two to four degrees above seasonal norms.
Last week 18 departments were placed on alert for heatwaves and in Paris roasting commuters resorted to recording the stifling temperatures on one of the city's busiest rail lines. 

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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.