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Rain-battered northern France to remain on red weather alert until Saturday

The Local France
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Rain-battered northern France to remain on red weather alert until Saturday
An inhabitant walks in a flooded street of Neuville-sous-Montreuil. (Photo by Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP)

The Pas-de-Calais département in northern France will remain on red alert for flooding until Saturday, even though forecasters expect weather conditions to begin improving.

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Météo France announced that Pas-de-Calais will remain on the highest weather warning until Saturday, even though forecasters expect rainfall to decrease over the weekend, before possibly resuming on Monday.

As of 4pm on Friday, the River Aa reached a new record height, according to the Keraunos observatory. It was recorded to be "10 cm higher" (at 2.28m) than its previous record level (2.18m).

Two other rivers also remained under flood alerts: the Liane and the Canche. 

As of late afternoon on Friday, Météo France reported that "the heaviest rains were over in Pas-de-Calais" and it downgraded the warning from red to orange for heavy rains, despite continued concerns around flooding.

Significant rainfall had already occurred in the area as early as Friday morning, with Météo France forecaster reporting in its 6am bulletin that there had been accumulations of up to 40 milimetres of precipitation in the last 24 hours in Pas-de-Calais.

According to French environment minister, Christophe Béchu, areas affected by flooding will be classified as 'natural disaster' zones by Tuesday, November 14th.

READ MORE: What does a state of 'natural disaster' mean in France?

Friday's red weather alert is also related to the fact that heavy rains are falling on already rain-soaked land. In nine days, the equivalent of 2 months of rain fell on the collines de l’Artois, in Pas-de-Calais. In Bainghen, more than 252mm of rain was recorded between November 1st and November 9th. The monthly average for November is 118mm.

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Emergency services in the département – boosted by around 300 reinforcements – were called to nearly 100 flood-related incidents overnight between Thursday and Friday, including the evacuation of 19 residents from a retirement home.

Meanwhile, schools and nurseries in 200 communes have been ordered to remain closed until at least Sunday because of the weather conditions – and may not open early next week.

“We will see for Monday’s openings if it is possible [to reopen schools],” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Thursday. 

TER rail services in the département were also expected to remain disrupted until at least midday on Saturday.

Four other departments were under orange vigilance on Friday: Nord for flooding and rain-flooding, Somme and Seine-Maritime for rain-flooding, and Charente-Maritime for flooding. 

Three départements, Nord, Vendée and Charante-Maritime were all listed on orange alert for possible flooding on Saturday.

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