Eleven areas of France on alert as floods cause dozens of deaths across Europe

Eleven French departments have been placed on orange alert for floods on Friday, after heavy rain caused devastation in parts of Europe. But forecasters say warmer weather is just around the corner.

Eleven areas of France on alert as floods cause dozens of deaths across Europe
Rain has scuppered many people's holiday plans. Photo: Guillaume SOUVANT / AFP.

Météo France released the weather warning for northern and eastern France, with “orange” meaning “be very vigilant”.

The departments affected are: Nord, Aisnes, Ardennes, Marne, Meuse, Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin,  Haute-Saône, Doubs, Ain, and Saône-et-Loire.

Alsace and the northern Alps were forecast to suffer the most rain on Friday, but flooding was listed as a risk across the wider region as a result of several days of heavy downpours on grounds that are already saturated with water.

Flooding in Belgium and Germany on Thursday caused more than 90 deaths, with hundreds more still missing.

In France, heavy rain and overflowing rivers provoked floods in many towns and caused disruption to train lines.

Between 50 and 70 mm of rain in total were forecast for the eleven departments on orange alert on Thursday, rising to 90 mm in the Haute-Marne and Jura departments, with up to a month’s worth of rainfall expected in a single day.

Temperatures in France have been unusually low since mid-June, with storms and heavy rain seen across the country over several weeks. So far only the south of France has seen sustained periods of sunshine.

Meteorologists have pointed to a “cold drop” as one explanation for the heavy rain and thunderstorms which have raged across the country. A cold drop is “where a mass of cold air at high altitude is disrupted by other masses of hot air, lower down, causing instability, rain showers and sometimes even violent storms,” Le Parisien reported.

Most regions should see drier weather over the weekend. On Sunday, temperatures should reach between 25 and 30C in northern France, and 26 to 33C in southern regions.

Then the week beginning July 19th should be brighter, with Météo France predicting “temperatures above the seasonal average across the country” at the start of the week, although western France could see more rain by the week’s end.

“The Mediterranean regions will retain dry and warm weather.”

“We should have an end to July which looks more like a classic summer,” forecaster Alix Roumagnac told France Info, adding that the rain seen in recent weeks would usually arrive earlier in the year, “when we get out of winter, during the spring, before moving into summer.”

The longer term forecast from Météo France predicts that August will see typical temperatures and levels of sunshine for the time of year.

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Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.