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WEATHER

IN PICTURES: See how the deluge has left parts of France’s Mediterranean coast submerged

Authorities in the south of France have told people to stay at home when possible, as torrential rain causes severe flooding in the region. These are some of the most stunning images captured by local residents.

A woman drivers her car in a flooded road in the Gard department on September 14th.
A woman drivers her car in a flooded road in the Gard department on September 14th. Illustration photo: Sylvain THOMAS / AFP.

France’s weather agency, Météo France, issued a weather warning for six départements on Monday, with Bouches-du-Rhône on red alert for heavy rain and flooding.

The Vaucluse, Var, Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, and Haute-Corse départements were on orange alert from Monday morning, with the disruption set to last until 9pm.

The new weather alert comes after torrential rain hit the region over the weekend, and drivers have been capturing the impressive scenes on camera.

Images sent into BFM and La Provence by Marseille residents show cars submerged by water.The following videos published by local newspaper La Provence show the extent of flooding in Marseille on Monday morning.

Even the city’s famous Vieux-Port neighbourhood was flooded on Monday.

The video below shows water flooding through the streets of coastal town Cassis, not far from Marseille.

In Nîmes in the Gard département, roads were flooded on Sunday evening, with one car submerged up to its roof in water.

Residents were being asked to stay at home, not to evacuate without instruction from the authorities, and not to use their basements.

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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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