Dozens of French departments on alert for violent thunderstorms

·1-min read

Thirty-two French departments were on Monday put on alert for storm risks and 11 for extreme temperatures despite the mercury falling on a June heatwave that saw temperatures peak at over 40 degrees in several parts of the country.

Severe thunderstorms are expected on the Atlantic coast and much of south-western France, with warnings of hail, violent winds of up to 100km/h and intense rainfall.

"This new round of thunderstorms will be accompanied by violent phenomena,” forecaster Météo-France said.

Strong thunderstorms already hit on Sunday night, wiping away the hot weather in the Parisian basin, Champagne and the Ardennes.

Heat dome

The heatwave is now limited to the central-eastern part of France, with Lyon, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes department, and Corsica still experiencing high temperatures on Monday.

Meteo France climatologist Matthieu Sorel said June had brought the “earliest heatwave recorded in France since 1947, adding it was a "marker of climate change".

The weather event is described as a heat dome, which occurs when an area of high pressure remains over the same region for days or weeks, trapping very warm air underneath like a lid on a pot.

It also having a devastating effect on the dryness of the soil after a particularly dry spring and winter, driving up the risk of forest fires.

Since the start of the year more than 600 forest fires has been recorded in the southern Mediterranean region alone, with others breaking out as far north as Brittany and Normandy.

Last week French firefighting authorities warned the heatwave would bring a "real powder keg" of weather conditions, and urged people to be vigilant when in forested areas.

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