HEATWAVE LATEST: 37 parts of France on alert, school closures

37 départements in France are under red or orange alert level for the heatwave, with at least 18 million people impacted. Students in elementary and middle schools in the 12 départements at red alert will be able to stay home on Friday, June 17th.

HEATWAVE LATEST: 37 parts of France on alert, school closures

As of Friday, June 17th, 37 départements in France are at red or orange alert level for the heatwave, with at least 18 million people impacted. This is the earliest heat wave ever recorded in France. 

The Ministry of Education has also announced that primary and middle schools (collèges) in the 12 départements that are at the ‘red’ level will be able to stay home Friday, June 17th.

France’s southwest regions are expected to exceed 40°C this Friday and the temperatures will continue to climb into Saturday, according to Météo-France. In Gironde, the département which contains Bordeaux and is on red alert, local authorities have banned “all public demonstrations outdoors or in non-air-conditioned premises” from Friday 2:00 pm due to high temperatures.

The red ‘vigilance absolue‘ level is rarely declared for high temperatures, and is a warning that the heat can pose a serious risk to human health and life. 

The départements on red alert are; Tarn, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Tarn-et-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, Landes, Gironde, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres, Vienne and Vendée. The alert remains in place until 4pm on Friday.

People in those areas are advised to stay indoors, drink plenty of water and avoid taking exercise in the hottest part of the day. Businesses may also reschedule their day to ensure that workers are able to avoid the worst of the heat and schools may close.

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne tweeted warning people in France to “be careful – drink plenty of water, rest in the shade and take care of loved ones. In case of illness, contact the ambulance on 15.”

Those on orange alert are; Aude, Ardèche, Ariège, Aveyron, Cantal, Cher, Creuse, Corrèze, Dordogne, Drôme, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Île-et-Vilaine, Loire-et-Cher, Loire-Atlantique, Lot, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Morbihan, Puy-de-Drôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Sarthe, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Loire and Haut-Vienne.

Meanwhile firefighters are warning that the hot temperatures combined with the drought means that much of the south of France is a ‘powder keg’ with wildfire expected.

MAP Where in France are there water restrictions and what does it mean?

The heatwave hit southern France at the start of the week – with temperatures of 36C and 37C recorded in Nimes, Carcassonne and Montelimar, breaking seasonal records – and on Wednesday it is making its way north, bringing unusually high temperatures right across the country.

The official threshold for a heatwave – three or more days where the national thermal indicator exceeds 25.3C and there is a danger to the population of excess mortality – has been reached and local authorities across France are activating their heatwave plans.

Frédéric Nathan of Méteo France said the heatwave was “extremely early”, but due to climate change France is likely to see more early, intense and long heatwaves in the years to come.

On Friday the mercury will continue to rise, with temperatures of 35C-40C expected across the whole of southern France.

Méteo France predicts that for the south “40C in the shade will certainly be reached, especially on Friday.”

Temperatures will also rise in the north, with 32C-36C widely expected, and the heat is predicted to extend to Brittany, which frequently escapes heatwaves.

Temperatures are predicted to reach their peak on Saturday, especially in the north where Paris is forecast to reach 36C.

Through the heatwave night-time temperatures are expected to stay high, not falling below 20C in any part of the country.

Saturday is predicted to be the last day of the very high temperatures, with storms forecast to arrive on Saturday evening from the west, travelling eastwards across the country.

Once the storms are over, temperatures are expected to fall back to the usual seasonal averages of around 30C.

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Snow warnings for northern and central France as winter weather arrives

After snow fell over much of France Monday morning, several départements were placed on the "yellow" weather warning as the country expects more winter weather later in the week.

Snow warnings for northern and central France as winter weather arrives

Winter weather has made its way to France. On Monday, Météo-France placed 24 departments under the “yellow” warning on Monday, over snow and ice. 

The départements concerned were primarily located in France’s north, north-east, and centre.

Screenshot from Météo France

Snowflakes made their appearance in Hauts de France and the Paris region on Monday morning, with a few centimetres accumulated in the Grand-Est region. 

In Lozere, significant snowfall on Monday left several motorists blocked in traffic on the A75. 

Ski season opened at several resorts, such as the high-altitude Val Thorens resort, in the French Alps this weekend.

As of Monday morning, six of France’s mountainous departments, from Haute-Savoie to Alpes-Maritimes were placed on the “yellow” (be aware) alert for avalanches on Monday.

Where snow is expected later this week

According to BFMTV, the remainder of the week will be marked by dry, cold weather across much of the northern parts of France, but the snowflakes are likely to return over the weekend, from Friday through Sunday.

Météo France expects temperatures to be colder than average this week, by about 4 to 5C chillier than seasonal norms.

Snowfall may begin on Friday morning, starting in France’s east and centre, particularly in the Oise and Cher départements. Later in the evening, light snowflakes are expected to fall on the départements north of the Seine and as far east as Alsace, particularly impacting Ille-et-Vilaine, Mayenne, Orne, Sarthe, Maine-et-Loire and Indre-et-Loire could also be affected.

Over the weekend, about two thirds of the northern part of the country will get to see some flurries, and by Sunday morning, a large northeast quarter of France could have a dusting of snow over the ground before higher temperatures turn the snow to rain later in the day.