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CLIMATE CRISIS

Paris officials to run emergency exercise simulating a 50C day in the city

As the climate crisis pushes temperatures ever higher, officials in Paris are preparing a simulation of the day when the mercury tops 50C, in order to prepare the city's emergency response.

Paris officials to run emergency exercise simulating a 50C day in the city
The Eiffel Tower with the sun behind it (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

This simulation, which was announced on Wednesday, is set to take place in October 2023, and it would plunge two parts of one arrondissement (which has not yet been decided) into the fictitious scenario to test the city’s capacity to respond to such a crisis. 

The current temperature record in Paris is 42.6C, which was set during the heatwave of 2019, but experts predict that the record is unlikely to remain unbroken for much longer.  

According to Deputy Mayor of Paris, Penelope Komitès, the city wants to be able to anticipate the next disaster.

“[Paris] has withstood various crises in recent years,” she said to French daily Le Parisien. The public official referenced past disasters, such as the flood of the Seine in 2018, Notre-Dame catching on fire, along with widespread protests and social movements.

“What will be the next crisis?” she said.

Public authorities hope to expand upon and move beyond the city’s first “action plan,” which was adopted in 2017.

The heatwave simulation would allow the city to test its emergency response capacity, namely deployment of cool rooms, shaded areas and other measures. It would also allow public officials to gauge and predict the reactions of Parisians amid a disastrous heatwave of 50C. 

READ MORE: ‘Over 40C’: What will summers in Paris be like in future?

“We have survived crises, but they can happen again,” Komitès said to Le Parisien. Her goal is not for the simulation to provoke anxiety, but instead to prepare the city to mobilise in such an event. 

According to RTL, on Wednesday, the greater Paris region also presented its plan to adapt the community “to the effects of climate change”.

Valérie Pécresse, the regional representative, referenced plans for “1,000 fountains” and the creation of “a network of climate shelters.”

Additionally, the region has set a target of increasing its green space by 5,000 hectares by 2030. The targets of this plan would include priority urban spaces: schoolyards, parking lots, squares, as well as cemeteries.

In 2003, the country suffered a historic heatwave that resulted in at least 14,000 heat-related deaths. Since then, France and its cities have begun adapting to rising temperatures by working to increase green space, provide ‘heat

An analysis from the BBC in 2021 found that “the number of extremely hot days every year when the temperature reaches 50C has doubled since the 1980s.”

READ MORE: Trees to trams: How French cities are adapting to summer heatwaves

This will not be the first simulation activity to anticipate or help the public become aware of rising temperatures. 

In 2014, meteorologist Evelyne Dhéliat gave a ‘fake forecast’ pretending that the year was 2050. The temperatures on her map however, ended up being eerily close to those France has seen regularly since 2019.

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WEATHER

Snow forecast in Paris as France shivers in early December chill

The French capital is set to see December snow this weekend, as temperatures dip across the country.

Snow forecast in Paris as France shivers in early December chill

Paris is expected to see its first snow of winter this weekend, with temperatures falling to between one and three degrees.

As France’s hottest year on record enters its final month, a small amount of snow is forecast in the greater Paris region on Friday evening – specifically Yvelines and part of Val-d’Oise, while rain in Essonne will mix with snow. Overnight, flurries are expected in Seine-Saint-Denis and into Paris itself – but no more than a dusting is expected.

Snow, this early in the season, is unusual in the capital. In 2010, 11 centimetres fell on December 9th, paralysing the city’s public transport system. It was the worst snowfall in the city in 25 years – and has not been repeated since. Generally, snow in Paris does not stick around.  

It’s not just the capital that it will feel chilly, Saturday will be cold across a large part of the country, as temperatures finally drop below seasonal norms, by as much as 5 degrees in some parts of France. Rain is forecast in the south, while the north will remain cloudy.

Some light overnight frosts are possible, according to Météo France, while temperatures are expected to reach between 3C and 6C in the north of the country, 7C to 9C further south, and up to 13C around the Mediterranean.

READ ALSO ‘We’re not in a disaster movie’ – How likely are blackouts in France this winter?

On Saturday, rain is expected in the south-east, which could bring a few centimetres of snow to the Massif Central at altitudes as low as 400m. 

On Sunday, some light snowfall may occur in the north-east, perhaps spreading as far as the historic Limousin area – but it is not expected to last. 

The Southern Alps should also see some snowfall on Saturday, and again on Sunday afternoon. A few flakes could also fall on the western part of the Pyrenees on Saturday afternoon, forecasters at Météo France said.

The cold spell will be shortlived, with temperatures rising again in the south of the country from Monday-Tuesday, and will do nothing to prevent 2022 setting climate records in France.

READ ALSO France’s ‘coldest village’ has its first frost-free October on record

Météo France said that global warming means cold periods in France are indeed increasingly rare and less intense. The winters of 2014 to 2021 were all “above normal”, while four of the five warmest winters on record were in 2007, 2014, 2016 and 2020.

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