More storms to hit France after flash-flooding in Paris and Marseille

Five areas in the south of France remain on high alert for storms and flooding on Wednesday, after torrential rain produced flash-flooding in Paris and Marseille.

More storms to hit France after flash-flooding in Paris and Marseille
(Photo: Nicolas Tucat / AFP)

The Hérault, Gard, Bouches-du-Rhône, Vaucluse and Var départements are all on orange weather alert – Météo France’s second-highest weather warning, while the rest of the country is on yellow alert for storms.

Image: Météo France

Forecasters warned that the storms may be violent with hail, heavy rain and winds gusting up to 100km/h. They also said less common phenomena such as tornados or waterspouts may occur in coastal areas.

Following a lull towards the end of the morning, more occasionally violent storms are expected in the south of the country later in the afternoon.

Départements on yellow alert may also be affected by locally powerful storms, Météo France warned.

On Tuesday, torrential rain hit Paris from around 6pm, causing flash flooding that forced some Metro stations to close.

More than 40mm of rain fell in a single hour leaving commuters having to wade through flooded streets to get home.

READ ALSO IN PICTURES: Storms and flash flooding hit Paris

Marseille’s historic Vieux-Port was also under water after violent storms hit France’s second city in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

While the water has now cleared from the area, commuters faced morning rush-hour disruption, because the Tunnel de la Major, a major traffic artery into the city, was closed for an hour for safety reasons.

On the whole, however, emergency services in the south of the country reported a relatively calm night under the circumstances, despite impressive images on social media.

No significant damage was recorded – but emergency services in départements on orange alert have reminded residents that they should confirm weather forecasts before making any journeys – “30cm of water is enough to carry away any car”, the prefecture of the Var said in a press release – and said that it is inadviseable to remain near a watercourse or trees when a storm strikes.

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France opens up first offshore windfarm – but will more follow?

President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated France’s first offshore windfarm off the coast of Saint-Nazaire on Thursday as he seeks to accelerate renewable energy supply and improve energy security.

France opens up first offshore windfarm - but will more follow?

The 80 turbines will enter full service by the end of the year, and Macron has previously set a goal of about 50 offshore windfarms “providing up to 40 gigawatts” in service by 2050.

Following the belated inauguration of the country’s first offshore windfarm, another at Fécamp is due to start generating power in 2023. Sites in Saint-Brieuc, Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer are set to enter service in 2024.

But France has a long way to go to meet the President’s target, and to catch up with its European neighbours. Before the Saint-Nazaire wind farm (‘parc éolien’ – en français), France had only one floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Le Croisic.

At Thursday’s inauguration event, Macron was to set out the “main lines” of a bill to accelerate France’s renewable energy programme, which will be presented to the Council of Ministers on Monday, September 26th.

READ ALSO France generates electricity from offshore wind farm for the first time

There is no doubt that renewable energy production in France is accelerating. On top of the 80 offshore turbines at Saint-Nazaire, just under 9,000 onshore turbines are currently producing electricity in France – eight years ago, around half that number of land-based turbines were operational. 

The first turbines in France were only installed in the 1990s – by which time countries like Germany and Denmark already had large-scale operations in place. 

More turbines would be in operation now in France, but for the lengthy planning process and appeals against projects, which have delayed construction for several years.

Hauts-de-France and Grand-Est, account for 50 percent of the wind-produced power in France. Île-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, and Corsica lag behind the other regions.

READ MORE: Energy shortages: What’s the problem with France’s nuclear industry?

In 2020, wind produced just eight percent of its electricity from wind, behind hydroelectric stations, while nuclear power generated nearly 70 percent of the country’s electricity.

Wind power accounted for 20 percent of electricity generation in Germany and Spain, while the UK was at 30 percent in 2020, Portugal produced 40 percent, and Denmark’s windfarms met 60 percent of the country’s electricity needs.