Drivers in France warned of transport chaos with winter storm on the way

Storm Gabriel is on its way to France and is set to bring with it violent winds, snow and freezing temperatures, with the country's transport minister warning that there is likely to be major disruption to roads and transport services.

Drivers in France warned of transport chaos with winter storm on the way
File photo: AFP
“This episode is likely to cause major disruption of road networks and transport services,” France's minister of transport Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday.
With weather warnings in place in a total of 43 departments in France, the transport minister Elisabeth Borne has also called on motorists to check out the situation on the roads before driving and to follow the instructions of the local authorities.
In the Ile-de-France region around Paris, heavy goods vehicles weighing over 7.5 tonnes and those transporting dangerous substances will be banned from the main roads from 9 pm. 
Around 5 to 10 cm of snow is expected in most areas and the busy RN 118 road in the Ile-de-France will be closed to all traffic from 3 pm due to expected snowfall. 
And police are urging drivers in the Paris region to leave work early on Tuesday with snow fall timed to hit the capital during rush hour. Motorists are also urged not to travel by car on Wednesday unless necessary.

In 2018, an episode of heavy snowfall led to 950 cars being stuck on the RN 118 overnight.
Meteo France warned that the “snowy episode could make traffic conditions very difficult”, advising drivers to be “very cautious and vigilant” on the roads.
School transport services will be suspended on Wednesday across the whole of the Yonne department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of France due to the heavy snowfall expected overnight on Tuesday. 
On Tuesday it was announced that school transport services will also be suspended in several other departments, including Seine-et-Marne, Essonne, Somme, Ardennes, Aisne and Hauts-de-France.
Due to strong winds, local authorities in the Landes departmemt announced that the speed limit had been lowered to 80km / h on all roads for all vehicles from 4 pm to 1 am.
Meanwhile in Paris where between 5 and 10 centimetres of snow is expected, 32 salt trucks are on standby to salt major highways, ring roads, bus lanes and very steep streets, Paul Simondon at the City of Paris told BFMTV.
This article will be updated with more information as we have it throughout the day

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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.