North and central France on alert as more snow arrives

Weather warnings were in place for parts of France on Wednesday morning as the winter weather continued. Snow has turned some areas in the north into a winter wonderland but also caused transport disruption.

North and central France on alert as more snow arrives
Photo: AFP
A total of 29 departments were placed on orange alert –  the second highest warning – in France on Wednesday morning by the country's national weather agency Meteo France
Twenty-five departments in the north and central France were on alert for ice and snow while four in the south west were on alert for avalanches. 
The departments on alert for ice and snow were Aisne, Ardennes, Aube, Cher, Côte-d'Or, Eure-et-Loir, Loir-et-Cher, Loiret, Marne, Nièvre, Nord, Oise, Pas-de-Calais, Saône-et-Loire, Paris and the area immediately outside the city known as the “Petite Couronne”, Seine-Maritime, Seine-et-Marne, Yvelines, Somme, Yonne, Essonne and Val-d'Oise. 
Meanwhile the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Ariège and Haute-Garonne were on alert for avalanches. 
The alerts are expected to remain in place until Thursday at 6 am and people in these areas are advised to be vigilant due to the risk of dangerous weather.
Map: Meteo France 
On Wednesday the department of Ardennes in the Grand Est region and the historical region of Burgundy in the east are expected to see snowfall of between 5 and 10 cm, or up to 15 cm locally on high ground. 
And according to weather forecaster François Gourand, the snow “will hold because it is so cold”.

People in the northern French city of Lille and Reims in the north east, woke up to a coating of snow on Wednesday morning. 
In Lille there was 9 cm of snow early in the morning, a level of snowfall which hasn't been seen in the city since 2013 while in Reims there was 6 cm of snow. 

Many local authorities had decided to suspend school transport, including in the departments of Ardennes, Yonne, Meuse, Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Aisne and Oise. 
In the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France, where snow showers were expected, and in Burgundy maintained the 80 km/h speed limit imposed on Tuesday as well as the ban on vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes and vehicles carrying dangerous goods.
 In the Hauts-de-France region the speed limit was reduced to 110 km/h on the motorways until midday on Wednesday. 
Weather forecasters have predicted that the risk of avalanches will increase on Wednesday in the mountains of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the western Hautes-Pyrénées, the Hautes-Pyrénées. and in the mountains of Haute-Garonne and western Ariège.
The risk will become even higher on Thursday due to increased snowfall throughout Wednesday.
“Many large avalanches, sometimes very large, may occur and affect roads or infrastructure, including at medium altitude,” warned Météo France.

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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.