Heavy snow in south-east France leaves one dead, scores of roads blocked and 300,000 homes without power

The first heavy snowfall of the season lead to widespread disruption in south-east France. One man was killed by a falling tree, tens of thousands of homes were hit by power cuts and dozens of roads were blocked.

Heavy snow in south-east France leaves one dead, scores of roads blocked and 300,000 homes without power
Snow in Saint-Jean Bonnefonds, near Saint-Étienne. Photo: AFP

After heavy snowfall in the south-east of France on Thursday there was widespread chaos on the roads with many routes blocked.

By Friday morning only one département – Saône-et-Loire – was still on an orange weather alert, but around 300,000 homes in the départements of Ardèche, Drôme, Isère and Rhône were without electricity.

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French weather forecaster Météo France said that although not much fresh snow was expected to fall on Friday, many places were still blanketed in snow and travel disruptions were likely for the rest of the day.

The power cuts were caused by several power lines falling due to heavy snow, one of which fell onto homes in the Ardèche village of Saint-Julien-en-Saint-Alban. About 25 residents were evacuated from their homes but no-one was injured, according to local firefighters.


Electricity companies say although access to the downed lines has been difficult, they hope all power will be restored by Friday lunchtime.

Traffic conditions have also been very difficult throughout the Rhone-Alps region, with minor roads blocked and major routes running extremely slowly.

Thousands of truck drivers were left stranded after the A7 was closed to HGVs.

Trains between Lyon and Grenoble were also blocked by snowfall on Thursday evening.

Although it remains open to cars, highways agencies have advised people to only travel is absolutely necessary. The RN88, RN102, A89, A46 and A72 have also imposed restrictions on vehicles above 7.5 tonnes.

Train travel was also badly disrupted after several trees fell on the line. Routes between Annecy, Grenoble and Valence were closed overnight and passengers had to be rescued from one train that became stranded.

Some school transport in the Ardèche, Drôme, Loire and Isère départements is suspended, although local officials say that most schools will remain open.




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South west France on red alert for flooding

Five areas in south west France have been placed on a red weather alert for flooding as storms lash the region.

South west France on red alert for flooding
Storms are moving in to south west France over the Pyrenees. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Météo France has placed five départements in south west France – Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège – on a red weather alert for heavy rains and flooding.

Extremely heavy rainstorms have hit the area, with a band of storm clouds travelling along the Pyrenees, bringing the risk of avalanches in the mountains and flooding in lowland areas.

The neighbouring département of Pyrénées-Orientale is on orange alert, along with the principality of Andorra. In the north, Aisne is also on orange alert for heavy rain.

Heavy rain is expected to continue throughout Monday, gradually easing off towards the evening, although the flood alerts remain in place until Tuesday.