An exceptional heat wave spreads over France

35 to 39°C, even 40°C in places: an exceptional and early heat wave will hit France until the weekend, a new sign of climate change with increasingly costly human and economic consequences.

An exceptional heat wave spreads over France

35 to 39°C, even 40°C in places: an exceptional and early heat wave will hit France until the weekend, a new sign of climate change with increasingly costly human and economic consequences.

• Read also: An “abnormal” heat wave suffocates Spain before arriving in France

With the arrival of hot air from the Maghreb via Spain which is already suffocating, the Southwest will be affected first on Tuesday with temperatures of up to 36°C, according to Météo-France. Later in the week, peaks above 40°C are expected locally in this region.

The mercury will panic throughout the country, both in the southern half and the northern half, which will experience between 30°C and 35°C on Friday and Saturday.

An unequivocal sign of global warming, heat waves are multiplying and intensifying all over the world.

In Spain, up to 43 degrees were expected on Tuesday in the south of the country, more than ten degrees above seasonal norms.

“This early heat wave” with temperatures beating “records and which is added to another heat wave less than a month ago” is an “extremely worrying” fact, declared the Minister of Ecological transition, Teresa Ribera.

“Extreme” risk of fires

According to the Spanish meteorological agency Aemet, temperatures are "7 to 12 degrees" higher than seasonal norms and this heat wave is expected to last until at least Saturday.

Consequently, the risk of fire is "extreme" over a large part of Spain, according to this agency.

Same thing in France, where the spokesperson for the Federation of firefighters Eric Brocardi warned of a "summer of all dangers".

On Monday, several major fires broke out in a region in the south-east of France, including burning 60 bungalows in one of the largest campsites in Europe.

Assuring to be "fully mobilized", French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne meets Tuesday prefects and regional health agencies to ensure "that all the devices are in place".

In Bordeaux (south-west), we are preparing: “we have bought foggers (…) which we are going to install in public spaces, both in squares in the city which are ovens, or spaces like kindergarten dormitories and senior residence halls,” explains Sylvie Justome, Health and Seniors Assistant.

Metropolitan France has already experienced more exceptional temperatures in June. The absolute record dates from June 2019, with 46°C in the shade in Vérargues (south-east) but it was at the very end of the month (June 28).

This wave is the earliest: “we could reach 40°C for the first time so early in the season”, Olivier Proust, forecaster at Météo-France, told AFP on Tuesday.

A precocity which weighs on the organisms with longer days and shorter nights in June than in July or August.

Faced with climate change, the French government has announced the creation of a fund of 500 million euros for the “renaturation of cities”.

Drought

The heat wave that comes after a particularly hot and dry spring will further aggravate the dryness of the soils, especially agricultural ones.

Matthieu Sorel, climatologist at Météo-France, told AFP of soil moisture levels "worthy of the end of July".

As for the water tables, which even heavy summer precipitation cannot recharge, they are falling, with a “worrying” situation in certain regions, according to the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research.

In this context, 36 departments, or more than a third of the country, have implemented water use restrictions.

The coming hot weather is particularly risky for the elderly and vulnerable, infants and outdoor workers.

Like on this tram construction site in the Bordeaux region. “This week we will at least attack at 7 a.m. Maybe 6 hours”, explains Aurélien Theillaud, works director. And “the union minimum is three liters of water per employee per day”.

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