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WEATHER

France experiences coldest April night since 1947

The French weather forecaster Météo France recorded temperatures of -9C on Sunday night, the coldest April night on record since 1947.

France experiences coldest April night since 1947
Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

Overnight frosts were seen across almost all of the France, with the exception of the Paris area and the northern and Mediterranean coasts, with the coldest temperatures recorded in the Champagne area.

While Champagne went down to -9C parts of the south west also recorded temperatures of -5C, leaving wine producers very worried about frost damage to their vines.

Also affected are farmers and fruit growers.

The president of France’s largest agricultural union FNSEA told Le Parisien that the frost had “hit hard” during the night and would have “very serious” consequences.

“It’s very serious, it hit hard overnight, as Météo France had predicted, the temperature went down to -5C, many arboriculturists are affected, what suffered are above all the stone fruits”, said Christiane Lambert. “There are many affected regions such as Dordogne, Burgundy, Alsace, Centre-Val de Loire, Lot-et-Garonne, Maine-et-Loire.”

Many vineyard owners have put candles or lamps out in their fields in an attempt to prevent the vines from freezing, as forecasters predict another two nights of low temperatures and morning frosts.

France’s grape harvest was badly hit by late frosts in 2021, leading to a much reduced wine production, although vineyard owners say it is too early to assess the scale of the damage this year. 

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ENVIRONMENT

Operation begins to rescue killer whale stranded in France’s Seine river

French authorities are attempting to lure the orca back to sea using a drone and loudspeakers.

Operation begins to rescue killer whale stranded in France's Seine river

A team of scientific experts have begun a mission to rescue the orca which has now been trapped in the Seine river for more than a week. 

The young whale was first spotted on May 16th near the port of Le Havre, around the Pont de Normandie, while the most recent sighting was further inland – about 20km from Rouen, in the Eure region.

The Seine-Maritime prefecture has warned that the creature is in a “weakened” state, because of prolonged exposure to fresh water and a lack of food. 

In a bid to lure it back to sea, they are using a drone which emits orca sounds through a speaker. 

“The use of these non-invasive methods, from several hundred metres’ distance, will make it possible to avoid using ships in the immediate proximity of the animal, which could aggravate its stress and endanger it survival, as well as the safety of rescuers,” said the Seine-Maritime prefecture in a statement.

Experts think that the young male was separated from his group, and might be on the search for another. This typically happens when a matriarch in the pod dies.

“They are very social animals, so it is not easy for them to be alone,” explained Delphine Eloi of the GECC regional, cetacean protection group to RTL. Eloi went on to explain that the orca is likely in poor health, as its dorsal fin appears to be completely round. 

Killer whales, which despite their name belong to the dolphin family, are occasionally spotted in the English Channel but such sightings are considered rare, let alone in a river.

“Its life is in danger. We are really very, very worried. Its state of health is very poor,” said Gerard Mauger, vice president of the GECC regional, cetacean protection group. 

“It is far from the sea. It is really complicated to find solutions to encourage it to head to salt water.”

He said the animal is “very thin” but likely weighs over a tonne.

Experts have reminded the public that the whale is likely not dangerous to people – there has never been a reported Orca attack on a human in the wild – though it is still advisable to keep a safe distance from it.

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