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Heatwave breaks records across France

France has seen its highest temperatures in history since the beginning of June. And while some people think climate change is not a reality, this intense heat wave might prove otherwise.

The last two weeks of June brought a shocking heatwave across Europe. In France, many cities broke records with the highest recorded temperature in history. After red alerts in the last week of June, the end is in sight. The alert has been downgraded to orange for the Alpes-Maritimes with an expected end to the "canicule" Tuesday night, 2 July.

France’s last dangerous heat weave was in 2003 which killed almost 14,000 people in one summer. Since then, the French government created emergency plans to protect the most vulnerable. At the beginning of last week (24 June), after Meteo-France issued a red warning with expected temperatures above 42°C, many cities enacted this heat emergency plan. Paris was among the first, followed very closely by bigger cities in the south of France.

 Nice endured its highest temperature in the night from Monday 24 June to Tuesday 25 June. During that night the average temperature in the city did not drop below 25°C - temperatures never seen before during this time of the year. The emergency plan put together by the city consisted primarily in opening cooling rooms in municipal buildings so people could come and cool off during the day.

The extreme temperatures also exacerbated fine particles in the air, leading to. anti-pollution measures, such as speed reduction and alternate traffic circulation. 

The highest temperature ever recorded in France was 45.9°C, registered on Friday, 28 June in Gallargues-les-Montueux, a little town in the southern part of Gard, just outside Montpellier. This heat wave marks also a record break in the country, as there is a new record of for the highest temperature ever known in the country. However, this record doesn’t come as a surprise to the village population as the former record was broken in this very same place. Indeed, in August 2003 the village recorded a high of 44.1°C. According to Meteo-France, these temperatures can be compared to the weather in California’s Death Valley.

Another town endured very high temperatures last Friday, with 44°C in Carpentras the town was empty. A consequence disastrous for restaurants and café owners, who had to close their terraces. After a week under intense temperatures, France will have a little time to recover as the mercury should not rise above average at this time of year. According to experts, the heat wave was caused by hot air from North Africa, passing throughout Europe.

While no deaths have been reported, blazes broke out in several parts of France, ravaging land and homes.

France Méteo says they will no longer speak of the 'canicule' after 9 pm on 2 July, but do warn that thunderstorms are coming throughout the Alps region: "Some storms are forecast to be severe. They may be accompanied by hail, heavy rains, and gusts of wind". 

 

-Alexa Bouhelier-Ruelle