Thursday, April 18, 2024

An exceptional heat wave is spreading over France

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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(Paris) An exceptionally early heat wave began in France on Tuesday and will continue into the weekend, a new sign of climate change with increasingly costly human and economic consequences.

Updated yesterday at 1:44 PM.

Emily Butler Dubois
France media agency

With hot air arriving from the Maghreb through already suffocating Spain, the southwest was exposed for the first time on Tuesday with temperatures rising to 34°C in Bordeaux and 37°C in Toulouse.

Mercury will panic, again, from Thursday to Saturday in the southern hemisphere, with a forecast of 38°C to 40°C for example Friday in the southwest, and above 40°C locally, according to Meteo-France. Temperatures range between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius in the northern half on Friday and Saturday.

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

In Spain, the temperature reached 42.3 degrees Celsius in Villarobledo and Talavera de la Reina (in the center).

According to the Spanish Meteorological Agency, temperatures are above seasonal norms by “7 to 12 degrees”, and this heat wave is expected to continue until at least Saturday.

Environmental Transformation Minister Teresa Ribera stated that “this early heat wave” with temperatures above “records and added to another heat wave less than a month ago” is a “very worrying” fact.

“Extreme” fire risk

As a result, the risk of fire is “extreme” across much of Spain, according to Emmett.

The same is true in France, where firefighters’ union spokesman Eric Brocardi warned of a “summer full of dangers”.

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On Monday, several large fires broke out in the southeastern region of France, including the burning of 60 floors in one of the largest camps in Europe.

And to make sure it was “fully packed”, French Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne assembled regional health governors and agencies on Tuesday to ensure “all equipment is in place”.

In Bordeaux (southwest), we are preparing: “We bought a nebulizer […] which we will install in public spaces, whether in city squares that are ovens, or spaces such as kindergarten dormitories and seniors’ residence halls,” explains Sylvie Gustom, Health and Seniors Aide.

Metropolitan France has already seen more exceptional temperatures in June. The absolute record dates back to June 2019, with 46°C in the shade in Vérargues (southeast) but it was at the end of the month (June 28).

This wave is the oldest. The speed of maturation burdens organisms with longer days and shorter nights in June than in July or August.

In the face of climate change, the French government has announced the creation of a €500 million fund for the “rehabilitation of cities”.


The heat wave that comes after a particularly hot and dry spring will exacerbate the drying out of the soil, especially agricultural soils.

Matthew Sorrell, a climate scientist at Météo-France, told AFP that soil moisture levels were “worth the end of July”.

As for streams, which even torrential summer precipitation cannot recharge, they are receding, with a “disturbing” situation in certain areas, according to the Bureau of Geological Research and Mining.

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

High temperatures are especially risky for the elderly, the frail, infants and those working outdoors.

Like this tram construction site in the Bordeaux area. “This week we will attack at least at 7 am. Maybe six hours,” explains Aurelien Theloud, Business Manager. And “the union’s minimum is three liters of water per employee per day.”

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