Weather warning: Southern France braced for more storms and flooding

Southern France was set to be lashed by more extreme weather on Tuesday evening with storms, torrential rain and coastal flooding forecast.

Weather warning: Southern France braced for more storms and flooding
Flooded in expected in southern France. Illustration photo: AFP

On Tuesday afternoon the country's weather agency Météo France placed six départements in the southern Occitanie region on Orange alert – the second highest warning level.

The warnings for storms and flooding are set to remain in place until Wednesday afternoon.

With rivers in the area expected to burst their banks members of the public are advised to take precaution when travelling, remain indoors during the storm and avoid going near river banks.

The départements on alert for flooding are Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Herault, Gard, Tarn and Aveyron.

Hérault, Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales are also on alert for coastal flooding due to the risk of high waves.

The area has seen heavy rain on Tuesday which has increased the likelihood of flooding.

A statement from Météo France on Tuesday afternoon said: “The rains currently concern the coast of the Pyrénées-Orientales, the east of the Aude and the whole department of the Hérault, as well as the west of the Gard and the east of Aveyron.

“During the last three hours, the rains have gradually intensified and become storms, with local levels of rainfall between 20 to 50 mm.”

The agency added the coastal areas were most exposed to the storms, which could include hail showers.






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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.