MAP: Which parts of France have the most heatwave warnings?

As the heatwave rolls, a total of 78 departments are on orange alert for the scorching weather in France. But in which areas of the country are warnings in place most frequently?

MAP: Which parts of France have the most heatwave warnings?
Photo: AFP
As the mercury continues its ascent, more than 80 percent of France is on orange alert – the second highest warning – for the heatwave. 
And while for some departments this is a regular occurrence, for others it is far more rare. 
For example on Thursday the department of Rhône in central eastern France was on orange alert for the 85th time since 2010, while the Calvados department in Normandy has not been on orange alert for heat for a decade. 
The map below published by Franceinfo reveals which departments of France have spent the most days on orange alert since 2010. 
The darker the colour of the department, the more days they have been placed on alert. For example, those coloured black in central eastern France have been on alert for more than 50 days since 2010, while those coloured light yellow – mostly in the north west of the country have not been placed on alert at all since 2010. 
Paris, coloured bright red, has spent a total of 32 days on alert while warnings have been in place in the Dordogne, coloured dark orange, for a total of 24 days. 
Before a department is placed on alert, several factors are taken into account, France's national weather agency told Franceinfo. 
In addition to temperature, the agency considers how reliable its forecast is, humidity levels, pollution levels and how unusual the temperatures are for the time of year. 
Decisions are made “case by case”, the agency said, adding that it requires consultation with France's national health body Sante France Publique which provides expertise on the ability of organisations to withstand high temperatures.

Heatwave LATEST: Schools close and trains disrupted as France bakes in 40C

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Sweltering France posts traffic jam record

France saw a record level of traffic jams on Saturday, with cars stuck in gridlock on roasting roads spanning 820 kilometres during the country's heatwave.

Sweltering France posts traffic jam record
A picture taken on August 8, 2020 near the toll gate of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines shows cars stuck in traffic jam on the A10 highway: Martin BUREAU / AFP

France's traffic authorities said the peak was reached just after noon, easily beating both last Saturday's record of 760 kilometres (470 miles) and the previous record of 762 kilometres set on August 3 of last year.

The country has been sweltering through a heatwave since Thursday, with temperatures pushing towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in several areas.

In the southwest, Brive-la-Gaillarde broke its record with 40.8C on Friday, as did Cognac with 39.8C, while Nantes in the west posted a new record of 39.6C.

No relief is expected until Wednesday, with the soaring temperatures compounding the pressure as the country's coronavirus outbreak worsens, the number of daily infections hitting 2,288 on Friday.

Authorities reminded sweltering citizens that masks must continue to be worn where they have been mandated, despite the heat.

Roland and Helene, retirees in suburban Paris, said they go out in the morning “to get some fresh air,” but then spend the rest of the day hiding in their apartment. “We fear the heat a lot,” Helene said.

French weather forecaster Météo France on Friday upgraded the orange weather warning to red for northern parts of the country as temperatures reached 37C. The red warning means a potential danger to life or health.

Placed on a red warning were Paris and the départements of Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-d'Oise, Val-de-Marne and Yvelines.

The départements of Eure and Seine-Maritime in Normandy were also put on red alert.

Last year was France's hottest on record, and the Meteo France weather agency has warned that global warming could double the number of heatwaves by 2050.