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WEATHER

Temperatures peak at 27C in southern France in February record

In what was an exceptionally mild start to what is usually the grayest, coldest month of the year, temperatures climbed over 25C in several parts of southern France on Monday.

Temperatures peak at 27C in southern France in February record
Temperatures climbed over the 25C degree mark in Biarritz on Monday. Photo: AFP

Record high temperatures in several cities on Monday made this the second warmest winter France has seen since it started registering meteorological data in 1900, according to French weather forecaster Méteo France.

The highest temperature was recorded in Seillans, in the Var département in south east France. Thermometers in Seillans showed 27C on Monday around lunch time, according to Méteo France.

Neighbouring towns Luc-en-Provence (25.8C), Hyeres (23.3C), Fréjus (26.2C) and Bormes-les-Mimosas (25.8C) also beat their February record temperatures.

 

But the south east was not the only side of the country to be unusually warm on Monday.

In the south west several cities saw temperatures climbing well over the 20C point mark. In Biarritz and Pau temperatures hit 25.7C and 24.3C respectively.

Even the country’s lowest registered temperatures were higher than was usual for February, Météo France said. 

 


In a tweet, the French Environment Ministry said the “new record high temperatures” were a sign that “the surface of the earth is heating up.”

The Ministry said it “feared alarming consequences for biodiversity,” and that a “general mobilisation” was the only way to tackle the problem.

 

 

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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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