Hot in front! The intense and unprecedentedly early heat wave affecting most of France peaked on Saturday with “peaks close to 42°C/43°C” in the south-west and absolute temperature records, as in Biarritz. Almost the entire French territory is affected on Saturday, and 11 departments located mainly along the Atlantic coast and in the south-west, are kept on red alert. A total of 70 departments have been on alert since this morning, including 59 in orange. Only PACA and Corsica are relatively spared. Nearly three quarters of the country’s population, i.e. 45 million people, are affected by the red or orange levels of heatwave vigilance.
The South-West particularly affected: absolute record in Biarritz
The city of Biarritz experienced an “absolute” temperature record “all months combined” on Saturday, affected like a large part of France by a heat wave of unprecedented precocity, said Météo France. Biarritz thus reached 41 degrees on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., according to Météo France, beating a previous record of 40.6°C on August 4, 2003, before the temperature continued to climb in the afternoon, reaching 4:00 p.m. 9°C, said Météo-France.
At 3 p.m., Météo France recorded 42°C in the neighboring town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, 41°C in Arcachon, 40°C in Bordeaux, 39°C in Angers, Auch, Auxerre, Châteauroux, Niort, Mont de Marsan. “Peaks close to 42°/43°C are measured locally in southern Aquitaine. Absolute temperature records are broken”, explains Météo-France on Saturday, while the Basque Country in particular was very hot, even on the coast, with 42°C recorded in Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
It is generally between 37 and 41°C in Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes, Centre-Val-de-Loire, western Burgundy and Ile-de-France. In the Grand-Est, the Lyon region, Auvergne, the Rhône valley and a good part of Occitania, the maximum temperatures reach 35 to 39°C”, adds the meteorological service.
Extremely high temperatures were recorded in several cities. At 3 p.m., in Cazaux, in Gironde, it was 41.1°C. 38.1°C were recorded in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in Pau, according to data from the weather channel. The absolute record was beaten in Pissos, in the Landes, with 42.6°C at 3:12 p.m.
Elsewhere, in the Grand-Est, the Lyon region, Auvergne, the Rhône valley and a good part of Occitania, the maximum temperatures reach 35 to 39°C”, added Météo France, in this bulletin.
Faced with this exceptional situation, festive, sporting and cultural events have been cancelled, such as the pilgrimage of veterans planned for Lourdes (Hautes-Pyrénées) on the occasion of the anniversary of June 18, 1940. In Bordeaux, the ceremony of commemoration of General de Gaulle’s appeal has been postponed to Sunday 19 June.
In Strasbourg, between 10 and 15,000 people according to the police took part in the Visibility March. “I have the impression that there are a little fewer people because of the heat wave”, judge however Antonin Rosse, a 23-year-old regular, dressed in a long black dress, a light blouse and d a large felt hat typical of the region. “A mix between a very rural Alsatian and Boy George”, he smiles.
The heat, combined with the drought which was already hitting part of the country after a spring with little rain, favored the outbreak of fires, in particular harvests, like Friday in Deux-Sèvres and Charente, classified in red vigilance. Saturday in Aveyron (south), in orange vigilance, firefighters fought against a fire which destroyed 140 hectares of vegetation in the town of Comprégnac, without causing any casualties, with an unfavorable wind and on steep terrain. A hundred additional hectares could be threatened.
With the heat, the concentrations of ozone in the air are clearly increasing over a large part of France, according to Prev’Air, which predicts that they will remain high “in the days to come”. Placed on level 2 ozone pollution alert for the weekend, the department of Bouches-du-Rhône (south) has lowered the speed on the roads by 20km/h. In the Paris region, differentiated traffic was put in place due to an episode of fine particle pollution.
Extreme heat also promotes the proliferation of cyanobacteria in bodies of water, leading to bans on swimming, water sports and fishing, such as at the Sesquières and Ramée lakes in Toulouse.
Calm from Saturday evening
After the good weather, the rain. From this Saturday evening, the French should be able to breathe and find a less suffocating atmosphere. A drop in temperatures will start from the North-West and spread to the rest of the territory in the following days.
“During the night from Saturday to Sunday, the temperatures will drop slowly, the minimums will be around 20 to 25°C in many regions”, according to Météo-France, which indicates that Sunday afternoon, “the most strong heat will shift to the east”, with 34 to 38 degrees in the northeast of the country.
In addition, punctual thunderstorms are expected from Saturday evening and in the night on the western facade, “starting in the South-West and going up towards Normandy”, some of these thunderstorms possibly “proving to be quite strong, accompanied by a few gusts of wind and above all strong electrical activity”, the beginnings “of a rainy-stormy degradation, more frank and more organized”, expected for Sunday evening.
“The heat wave will gradually decrease, to no longer concern only the eastern flank of the country”, concludes Météo-France.