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WEATHER

Icy storms blast France leaving one woman dead and 30 suffering from hypothermia

At least 30 people at a music festival had to be treated for hypothermia and a tourist was swept to her death as strong winds and icy weather blasted France over the weekend.

Icy storms blast France leaving one woman dead and 30 suffering from hypothermia

Temperatures across Europe plunged over the weekend with ice, snow and strong winds hitting France.

At the Tekvinal music festival in the Creuse region near Limoges, snow fell and at least 30 people were treated for hypothermia.

Emergency services handed out 500 survival blankets and two people were hospitalised, reported French newspaper Le Parisien.

 Meanwhile a German tourist was swept to her death as she walked along a beach in southern Corsica on Sunday as high waves battered the French Mediterranean island, officials said. 

The woman, who was in her sixties, “was swept away by the waves as she was walking along the beach at Porto,” the emergency services said. 

The incident occurred as southeastern France was battered by unseasonably high winds of up to 138 kilometres per hour, the Meteo France weather service said. 

In the southeastern Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region, high winds left nearly 2,000 homes without power. 

Three French mountaineers were rescued from Monte Rosa in the Alps at around 4,000 metres altitude as temperatures fell as low as -15 degrees Celsius, Italian media reported.

 

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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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