Swathes of France set to become winter wonderland with heavy snow forecast

Large parts of France will be covered in up to 10 cm of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, the heaviest snowfall of this winter so far. *French language learner article.*

Swathes of France set to become winter wonderland with heavy snow forecast
Photo: AFP

*This is a French language learner article. The words in bold are translated into French at the bottom of the article.

France’s first snowfall of 2019 is expected to fall on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 of January, as a cold front blowing in from the west will bring snow with it to much of the country. 

France’s westerly regions are forecast to receive a more modest 1 to 5 cm of snowfall but it could end up looking like a veritable winter wonderland in the east.

“We’re expecting five to ten centimetres of snow across a wide part of France’s Grand Est region,” said France's national weather agency Meteo France.

The first snowfall is expected to fall on Tuesday morning around the Haute-Normandy border with Belgium before shifting to the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France and surrounds as well as the country’s Centre-Val de Loire region.

It will be the first snowfall in the French capital this winter.

Photo: Météo France 

By the afternoon Burgundy-Franche-Comté and the Grand Est region will bear the brunt of the cold front with those 10 centimetres of snow (enough to make a snowman with we hope).

“Very heavy snowfall” has been forecast for the Pyrenees, making the risk of avalanches on the slopes high for Wednesday.

Dry weather is expected to make a return to France on Friday after a fairly rainy Thursday. So make sure you keep that umbrella, antifreeze and ‘wellies’ handy for the time being.  



French vocab to learn

fortes chutes de neige: heavy snowfall

annoncer: to forecast

se décaler: to shift

neige fondue: sleet 

alentours : surroundings

un front d’air froid: a cold front

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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.