In the northern département of Manche, a département unaccustomed to high temperatures, the mercury reached 26C in La Hague on Tuesday, breaking a record for May dating back to 1922. The highest temperature on Tuesday across France was 32.8C recorded in Agen. But that record is not expected to last long.
Keraunos, the observatory for tornadoes and violent thunderstorms, warned that France could see a new national temperature record close to 37C between Friday and Sunday, some +17C higher than normal for the time of year.
Une anomalie extrême prévue entre vendredi et dimanche sur le sud de la France au niveau de la masse d'air à 850 hPa (1500 m) avec +17/+18°C par rapport aux normales.
Il fera probablement jusqu'à 37°C loc. voire un peu plus avec possibilité d'approcher le record national de mai. pic.twitter.com/U0JW9rD9tw
— Keraunos (@KeraunosObs) May 17, 2022
According to national forecaster Météo France, temperatures were expected to hit 34C in Toulouse on Wednesday, beating the May record of 33.1C in the Pink City set in 2001, while Bordeaux was expected to see similarly high temperatures. Forecasters predicted 31C in Paris, compared to around 22C normally, while in the far north of the country, 29C was expected in Lille.
According to François Jobard, forecaster for Météo France, “since at least 1947, there has never been a ‘heat wave’ in May, because the hottest day in May remained well below 25.3 ° C (22.9°C: May 28, 2017). In fact, until now, this threshold has never been reached before a June 20…”
🌡 Cette semaine devrait être l'une les plus anormalement chaudes qu'ait connu la France au mois de mai ! L'anomalie hebdomadaire devrait atteindre +6 à +8°C sur les 2/3 de l'hexagone. 🥵 (carte ECMWF) pic.twitter.com/C2Mga9Abj1
— Guillaume Séchet (@Meteovilles) May 17, 2022
The reason for the unseasonably high temperatures? Since the beginning of May, France has been blocked under an anticyclone. “We are already seeing an anomaly of more than 2.7 degrees higher than average,” a Meteo France spokesperson told Franceinfo.
Forecasters fear temperatures across the whole of the month could end up being 3C above normal. The hottest May on record was in 2011, when average temperatures were 1.85C higher than the average.
A European Commission report said the hottest May day since measurements began was expected on Wednesday, particularly in the Rhone valley.
Despite storms forecast for Wednesday in the north and west of the country, which are set to spread across France over the weekend, Météo France forecaster Gaétan Heymes said in a Tweet that it is “almost certain that this month will be drier than normal. Beating the 2011 drought record remains largely possible…”
L'anomalie de température pourrait atteindre +3°C. En 2011, mois de mai le plus chaud, l'anomalie était de +1,85°C.
Il est quasiment certain que ce mois sera plus sec que la normale (soit le 9ème en 10 mois).
Battre le record de sécheresse de 2011 reste largement possible… pic.twitter.com/PZTlLLFM23
— Gaétan Heymes (@GaetanHeymes) May 17, 2022
That will mean nine of the past 10 months – December is the odd one out – have been drier than normal.
Meteorologists say the abnormal temperatures risk becoming more frequent in the coming years as a result of climate change.
“Heatwaves are set to become more frequent and tend to set in earlier in the spring than before,” Météo France said.