French weather forecaster Météo France issued orange level warnings – the second highest warning level – for thunderstorms across in the south west of the country on Thursday morning, and later extended the alert to a dozen départements in central and northern France.
The départements on alert for storms were Nord, Aisne, Ardennes, Marne, Seine-et Marne, Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, Cher, Nièvre, Aube, Yonne, Indre, Vienne, Deux-Sèvres Haute-Vienne, Creuse, Charente-Maritime, Charente, Gironde, Dordogne, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Lot, Corrèze, Gers, Tarn-et-Garonne, Pyrennées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrennées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège.
Members of the public are warned to stay away from trees and rivers and to seek shelter in the event of a storm.
The eastern Rhône département was also placed on orange alert on Thursday morning for sweltering temperatures.
🔶 31 dpts en #vigilanceOrange
— VigiMétéoFrance (@VigiMeteoFrance) June 17, 2021
The alert began at 10.00am on Thursday and runs until Friday at 6.00am.
Heavy downpours and thunderstorms are expected in the south west region around midday.
Météo France said: “Throughout the afternoon, thunderstorms will develop in the south west of the country. They will gradually become more numerous, resulting in very heavy rain (around 50 to 80 mm in three hours). They may be accompanied by hail, strong winds and electrical activity.”
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“In Aquitaine, the orange alert is doubled with a heavy rain alert, because strong downpours are expected of around 60mm in just a few hours. These thunderstorms will gradually move to the northern regions towards the end of the afternoon and during the night, in the departments placed on orange alert.”
“We also draw attention to the possibility of strong thunderstorms near the départements of Île-de-France, Somme, and more generally from Normandy to the Pays de la Loire.”
“The heatwave is early for the season but not exceptional in duration and intensity. It will be more intense in the Lyon area, with minimum temperatures around 20ºC and 23ºC and maximum temperatures of 32ºC to 35ºC.”
On Wednesday afternoon, temperatures reached 31ºC to 33ºC across most of the country. In the Lyon region, temperatures reached 34ºC and almost 36ºC in the city centre.