Heat wave hits France, vigilance increased

A high-pressure system bringing hot air up from the Sahara is making temperatures climb to unusually level in France where hotspots of up to 40 degrees Celsius are forecast to hit Paris and most French cities this week, forcing the government to raise vigilance and trigger heatwave alert system.

“The heatwave, which began on Sunday, is increasing sharply today and from tomorrow we expect 35 to 40 degrees Celsius across munch of French regions,” Meteo France, the country’s weather agency said on Monday.

“This heatwave could be remarkable for how early it has come as well as its intensity,” it added.

Like major Western European countries where unprecedented high temperatures will rise ruthlessly at least the next six days, France is set to witness unseasonably temperatures which could even exceed 38 degrees Celsius in parts of eastern and southern regions in the coming days.

For Wednesday, Meteo France predicts 40 degrees Celsius in Lyon and Besancon and 41 degrees in Clermont-Ferrand. Temperatures in Paris could reach up to 39 degrees by Friday afternoon.

“These very high temperatures could persist until the following weekend especially in eastern regions. Some places could report record temperatures,” the weather agency noted.

The current record temperature for June is at 41.5 degrees. It was registered near Narbonne in southern France in June 2003.

In France, where temperature average stands at 19.9 degrees for the June-August period, “more intense and more frequent heatwaves” are expected due to climate change, warned Meteo France.

“The frequency of such events is set to double by 2050. At the end of the century, they could be not only much more frequent, but also much more severe and longer, with an extended period from the end of May to the beginning of October,” the agency said.

“EVERYTHING IS READY”

French health minister Agnes Buzyn on Monday urged high vigilance to protect mainly vulnerable people from the heatwave, noting that the government has taken the necessary measures to deal with the searing temperatures.

“Everything is ready at the same time in the retirement homes, hospitals, in the transports. The General Directorate of Labor sends instructions and the ministry of sports changes the competition schedules. In short, everything is organized,” Buzyn told France info radio.

“That said, when people are fragile, even if they drink a lot, even if everything is organized, there is always a surplus of mortality (because of hot weather),” she added.

In Paris, Anne Hidalgo, the city’s mayor on Sunday activated a level-three heatwave action plan which provides the establishment of “cool rooms” in municipal buildings, opening pools for late-night swimming and offering access to garden parks by nightfall to help Parisians to cool down.

“We’re ready. This heatwave will be intense,” Hidalgo told JDD newspaper.

Meteo France has put 53 departments, including Ile-de-France (Paris and its suburb), under orange alert due to intense heatwave and decided to maintain the alert system in these areas till Tuesday afternoon.

In 2003, some 15,000 people died from causes attributable to the heat in France.