Swathes of France placed on alert for post-heatwave storms and gales

The worst of the recent heatwave may be have passed but parts of central, eastern and north-eastern France were placed on alert on Thursday over the risk of violent thunderstorms.

Swathes of France placed on alert for post-heatwave storms and gales
(Photo: Guillaume Souvant / AFP)

Unfortunately, the severe weather in France has not quite finished yet.

Météo France placed 25 départements in central, eastern and northeastern France under the ‘orange’ alert, warning residents of the risk of severe thunderstorms this Thursday and Friday.

The départements concerned are Ain, Allier, Ardennes, Aube, Cantal, Côte-d’Or, Doubs, Jura, Loire, Haute-Loire, Marne, Haute-Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle, Nièvre, Puy-de-Dôme, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Rhône, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Vosges, Yonne, and Territoire de Belfort.

Forecasters estimate that storms will roll in around midday and last into the night of Thursday or into Friday morning.

“These storms will could be violent,” warned Meteo France. Meteorologists are predicting locally strong hail falls, heavy rainfall -with accumulations of around 30 to 50 mm in under an hour – and strong gusts of wind, which could reach 70 to 90 km/h.

On Wednesday evening, parts of the Pays de la Loire region experienced severe thunderstorms, some of which caused damage. In the town of Le Coteau, hail caused signficant damage, with the mayor telling Franceinfo that the town was “devastated by a torrent of hail.” No injuries were reported, but there was “considerable material damage.”

Earlier in the week, France’s western départements had also been on orange alert for violent thunderstorms. 

Places like Bordeaux saw significant hail-fall, which some were able to catch on video:

Meanwhile, the orange alert for heat has been lifted for the six départements in eastern France that were still seeing high temperatures. Now, most of the south, southwest, and west of the country have returned to a ‘yellow’ alert level.

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France’s latest heatwave set to peak on Friday

Friday will see scorching temperatures across France - but some relief is expected after that.

France's latest heatwave set to peak on Friday

French weather forecaster Météo France says that Friday is expected to be the peak of the latest heatwave, with temperatures dropping on Saturday and storms forecast.

Temperatures will be between 35C and 40C across most of the country with 19 départements on orange alert for high temperatures; Finistère, Morbihan, Loire-Atlantique, Vendée, Deux-Sèvres, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Haute-Vienne, Dordogne, Gironde, Lot-et-Garonne, Lot, Tarn-et-Garonne, Tarn, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Landes, Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées.

In the afternoon, maximum temperatures in the shade will be 38 to 40C in Occitanie, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Pays-de-la-Loire, 35C in most of the rest of France, but slightly lower – 30C to 34C – in the North and Northeast.

Storms are forecast for Friday evening over the Alps and Pyrenees, and will then hit the rest of the country on Saturday night and into Sunday.

The storms are expected to be short-lived, however, and will not bring any significant improvement to France’s drought, already the worst on record, that has seen water restrictions imposed across the country and rivers slow to a trickle.

Météo France said that the summer temperatures and droughts seen so far are on course to hit the figures predicted for 2050 in the “pessimistic” scenarios modelled for the climate crisis. 

IN PICTURES: French drought intensifies as River Loire dries up