France: Mudslides, floods - and drought

A A A

France has been cut in two by extremes of bad weather since the end of last week. In the north and west, there have been torrential rainstorms, mud slides and temperatures 6C below normal. The south, especially the south-east, has been afflicted by drought, high winds and 70 forest fires, including one that killed two firefighters.

France has been cut in two by extremes of bad weather since the end of last week. In the north and west, there have been torrential rainstorms, mud slides and temperatures 6C below normal. The south, especially the south-east, has been afflicted by drought, high winds and 70 forest fires, including one that killed two firefighters.

With a record number of tourists expected to visit France this year, partly thanks to the weakness of the euro, the country had been hoping to break a pattern of "rotten Julys". No such luck, so far.

The rain was even spreading into the south yesterday, although better weather is forecast from Thursday.

Since last Thursday, the north has been lashed by the same unseasonal weather that has washed over the British Isles. The averagerainfall of the month of July - 45 litres per square metre - fell on parts of the Paris area in just one day on Friday. The temperature, from Brittany to Alsace, has been 15C to 18C, six below normal for July. Snow was forecast on high ground in the Auvergne and Alps last night.

High winds in the Bay of Biscay forced the suspension of renewed efforts to pump oil from the wreck of the tanker Erika, which sank off southern Brittany in December. Mud-slides in railway cuttings forced the diversion of high-speed trains to the west and south-west at the weekend.

South of the Massif Central, the country has faced a plague of a different kind. Days of dry weather, followed by the high, dry mistral and canicule winds, brought a rash of forest fires. Tens of thousands of acres of scrub and forest were burnt in Provence and Corsica. At Cornillon-Confoux, just north-west of Marseilles, two firefighters were cut off as they tried to flee the blaze in their truck on Sunday, and burnt to death. Their funeral yesterday was attended by hundreds of their colleagues.

Meteo-France blamed the weather on a huge anti-cyclone anchored in the Atlantic off Portugal. Typically, the anticyclone would settle on the Continent at this time of year, bringing dry, sunny weather. Instead, western Europe has been lashed by its fringes.

French meteorologists say the run of poor Julys since the beginning of the 1990s is "coincidence", and there is no reason yet to seek cataclysmic explanations, such as permanently disturbed weather from a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They say the rainfall and temperatures are not yet the worst on record for the month.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen