Paris and northern France put on RED alert as temperatures soar towards 40C

Paris was one of 20 départements in the north of France to be place on red alert on Wednesday afternoon as the heatwave saw temperatures soar towards the 40C mark.

Paris and northern France put on RED alert as temperatures soar towards 40C
Photo: AFP

Météo France took the stop of increasing the alert level from orange to red with the worst of the heatwave still to hit the Paris region and northern France.

As well as Paris and its surrounding départements in Île-de-France, other parts of the north on red alert included parts of Normandy and the Hauts-de-France region.

Some 60 départements were still on orange alert, with only Brittany escaping the sweltering heatwave.

The red alerts will be in place until Thursday when temperatures are set to peak in northern France. The all-time high temperature recorded in Paris of 40.4C could well be broken.

Météo France believe temperatures in Paris could reach 42C on Thursday.

France's Health Minister Agnes Buzyn had a stern warning for members of the public who could suffer health problems as a result of the extreme heat: “Everyone is at risk with these kinds of temperatures.”

She warned that it was ill-advised to take part in any sporting activity over the coming days.

It's only the second time Météo France has issued red level warnings for a heatwave in France. The first time was during June's heatwave when several départements in the south were place on red alert as France recorded its highest ever temperature of 46C.

The red level alert, which is for a “dangerous weather phenomenon” comes with some warnings for the public to take the upmost precaution.
Météo France said “all of us are threatened, even healthy people”.
It adds: “The danger is greater for seniors, people with chronic illness or mental health issues, people who take regular medications and people who are isolated.”
Those who work outside are told to take care and watch out for the signs of heat stroke, which include: fever over 40C, hot, red and dry skin, headaches, nausea, drowsiness, intense thirst, confusion and convulsions.


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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.