With temperatures reaching up to 30C in some parts of France this week, experts warn that the heatwave, remarkably early for the summer season, could bring on drought.
As a result, water restrictions have been put into place for 10 French départements, with a 15 total under close observation.
Drought alerts and water restrictions are common in France over the summer, but this is unusually early.
The 10 départments who have risen above the threshold for ‘alert’ are Maine-et-Loire, Vienne, Deux-Sèvres, Charente-Maritime, Charente, Ain, Drôme, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône and Vaucluse.
The map by Propluvia shows départements based on grey, yellow, orange, and red. Grey zones (“vigilance”) are to be monitored, whereas yellow zones have risen to the threshold of requiring water restrictions.
These might include specified times for watering the garden or washing the car. Golf courses and public green spaces such as parks will also have restrictions on water usage, and farmers will have water restrictions in place up to three days a week.
If an area is shaded orange, that means it is considered a “reinforced alert zones.” This would mean cutting water usage by at least 50 percent for agricultural purposes (the equivalent of about 3.5 days a week), and implementing stronger limitations on citizens’ water usage for gardens, green spaces, golf courses, or car washing.
Red zones have reached the point of “crisis,” meaning a full stop to non-priority water usage. If a zone also has stripes, that means there is a specific alert regarding groundwater.
After an already dry year, the fourth driest in France since 1959, experts worry the heat will accentuate already dry soil, which is cause for concern for French farmers.
Ten days of summer heat, at this time of year “is quite rare” said climate specialist Paul Marquis to French daily Le Parisien. In fact, some regions will experience between temperatures of eight to 10C higher than average seasonal temperatures. In total, thus far in 2022 in France, it has rained 35 percent less than last year.
Cumuls de précipitations déficitaires depuis le début de l'année sur une majeure partie du pays.
🇫🇷 A l'échelle de la France :
🔴Janvier : déficit 40%
🔴Février : déficit 30%
🔴Mars : déficit 40%
🔴Avril : déficit 35%
— Météo-France (@meteofrance) May 5, 2022
However, this early heat wave is not specific to France. Many other parts of the world are experiencing similar weather patterns, with at least 20 million people in East Africa at risk of famine.