In a new sign of global warming, a particularly early heat wave is expected to hit France from Wednesday, with temperatures reaching up to 38°C in the south of the country.
The heat wave will affect the southern part of the country first, although how far it will spread to the north is uncertain, Meteo France said.
Temperatures could reach 35 to 38 degrees Celsius from the middle of the week until the weekend, and are not expected to drop below 20 degrees, the meteorological service predicted. The mercury could reach 35°C in Paris on Friday or Saturday.
Meteo France said this year’s heat wave is set to arrive unusually early, with temperatures predicted seen normally at the height of summer.
This is due to a low-pressure system located between the Azores islands and Madeira in the Atlantic, which favours the uprising of warm air over Western Europe.
The state forecaster said it expected the peak of the heat wave in France to take place between Thursday and Saturday.
The multiplication and intensification of heat waves are the most obvious manifestations of climate change caused by human activities.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, France has experienced several exceptional heatwaves, notably the one in the summer of 2003, or the one in June 2019 when the absolute heat record in mainland France was recorded in Vérargues (Hérault), with 46°C.
"A very worrying situation"
This week's heatwave comes after a particularly hot and dry spring, which has caused soil drought in much of France, raising fears for the harvest.
Despite the rains recorded last week in part of the country, "we are still in a very worrying situation, with extremely dry soils, and this is not going to help the situation," noted the forecaster.
In this context, more and more departments are putting in place water use restrictions. As of 12 June, thirty-five departments had issued such orders, according to the official website Propluvia, compared to twenty-two ten days ago.
Pre-summer heatwave in Spain
Neighbouring Spain is currently experiencing the hottest pre-summer heatwave for at least 20 years.
Temperatures reached 40°C in the Guadalquivir valley in Seville and the nearby city of Cordoba on Saturday, the national meteorological office AEMET said.