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Heatwave LATEST: Most of France placed on alert as temperatures spike

Heatwave warnings were extended across more of France on Tuesday with much of the country now on Orange alert for searing temperatures, which are expected to rise above 40C in some cities.

Heatwave LATEST: Most of France placed on alert as temperatures spike
Map: Météo France

French weather forecaster Météo France has issued orange alerts – the second highest warning – for 65 départements in France, leaving a warning map that now covers the majority of the country.

Some 53 departments were already on alert on Monday as the Mercury began to rise.

The warnings began in Paris and the surrounding areas before spreading south and east.

The départements that were put on orange alert on Tuesday are; Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Aveyron, Haute-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonn, Lozère, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe and Vaucluse.

The départements that remain on alert from Monday are Ain, Allier, Ardennes, Aube, Cantal, Charente, Cher, Corrèze, Côte-d'Or, Creuse, Dordogne, Doubs, Drôme, Eure-et-Loir, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Isère, Jura, Loir-et-Cher, Loire, Haute-Loire, Loiret, Lot, Marne, Haute-Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle, Nièvre, Puy-de-Dôme, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Rhône, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Paris et petite couronne, Seine-et-Marne, Yvelines, Deux-Sèvres, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Vienne, Haute-Vienne, Vosges, Yonne, Territoire-de-Belfort, Essonne et Val-d'Oise. 

Both Paris and Dordogne have activated emergency plans to deal with the heat.

 It is thought that temperatures during the heatwave – which is forecast to go on all week and reach its peak on Thursday and Friday – will spike at 40C, but forecasters have warned that accompanying high humidity will make the temperatures equivalent to 47C, particularly in cities.

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Health warnings have been issued for the elderly and young children, and the predicted temperatures are being compared to the heatwave of 2003, when unusually high temperatures in August caused 15,000 deaths across France.

Meteorologist Guillaume Séchet told Le Parisien: “The mercury will already reach incredible temperatures but with the humidity level in the air, the feeling will be terrible.

“While we will have almost 40C in Paris, the atmosphere will be so heavy that we will feel the heat as if it were 47C.”

 

From Monday morning, the Ministry of Health will be broadcasting warnings on TV and radio urging people to stay hydrated, avoid getting overheated and check on elderly or isolated neighbours.

READ ALSO Where are the hottest (and coolest) places in France this week?

Health minister Agnès Buzyn added that hospitals and ambulances are on standby to deal with an expected spike in calls.

 She said: “I'm worried about people who are downplaying this, who are continuing to exercise as usual or stay out in the sun.

“This affects all of us, nobody is a superman when it comes to dealing with the extreme heat we're going to see on Thursday and Friday,” she told a press conference.

READ ALSO Cool rooms, pools and water fountains: Paris activates emergency heat plan

“It's unprecedented because it's hitting so early in June, we haven't seen this since 1947,” said Emmanuel Demael, a forecaster at the Meteo-France weather agency.

He expects records will be set for the month, “and in some places records for all months combined.”

French retailer Boulanger said sales of “air treatment” equipment such as fans and air conditioning units had jumped 400 percent from normal levels in recent days.

Meanwhile there was some good news for school pupils – the French government announced on Monday that it was taking the unusual step of delaying national school exams scheduled for this week to protect pupils during a heatwave.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said the Brevet national diploma exam – a key test for children aged around 14 that was set for Thursday and Friday – would be delayed until next week.

The orange alert issued by Météo France is for a danger to health posed by the heat. The risk is listed as affecting everyone, although children and the elderly are at particular risk, along with athletes and people who do physical work.

The forecaster lists the following behavioural advice;
 
* In case of discomfort or behavioural problems, call a doctor.
* If you need help call your local town hall.
* If you have elderly, chronically ill or isolated people in your life, check in with them or visit them twice a day. Accompany them in a cool place.
* During the day, close shutters, curtains and windows. Ventilate at night.
* Use fan and/or air conditioning if available. Otherwise try to go to a cool or air-conditioned place (supermarkets, cinemas…) two to three hours a day.
* Wet your body several times a day with a mist, a washcloth or by taking showers or baths.
* Adults and children: drink plenty of water, the elderly: drink 1.5L of water per day and eat normally.
* Do not go out during the hottest hours (11am-9pm).
* If you have to go out wear a hat and light clothing.
* Limit your physical activities.
 
The symptoms of heat stroke are listed as: fever above 40C, hot, red, dry skin, headache, nausea, drowsiness, intense thirst, confusion, convulsions and loss of consciousness.
 
There is more health advice available on the Ministry of Health site at www.sante.gouv.fr.
 
 

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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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