More below-zero weather ahead

Sunshine but freezing weather will not lift

Sun fails to warm France as Météo France warns of increasing winds and more freezing temperatures

TEMPERATURES in the 39 departments on orange weather alert are not expected to get out of minus temperatures despite bright sun across the majority of the country.

Météo France said that first thing this morning general temperatures across France were ranging between -10C and -16C with -20C in the mountains - although Brittany stayed above zero and was soon hitting 5C. Nice is due to be the warmest place today with 10C after being at -1C overnight.

This is expected to be the coldest day of the week but there are still several days of cold weather ahead with rising winds from the north-east.

The orange alert for freezing cold has been called for departments from Nord south to Tarn and east to Hautes-Alpes - with people being advised to avoid prolonged exposure to the cold, wearing proper clothing (several layers and with a windproof outer layer) plus a hat and gloves.

School buses are again off the roads in Eure, Seine-Maritime, much of Centre, Basse-Normandie, Loire-Atlantique and Vendée.

A retired couple in Villetaneuse, Seine-Saint-Denis, were found dead yesterday after being poisoned by carbon monoxide gas from a faulty heater and in Vaucluse a farmer at Carpentras was killed as he tried to clear ice from the roofs of his greenhouses.

Feared black-outs in the Var and Alpres-Maritimes were avoided by a series of power reduction measures as national grid operators Réseau de Transport d'Electricité said consumption fell just short of setting a new record.

Peak consumption at 19.00 - when households across France were returning home and switching on kettles, TVs, computers and heating - hit 96,300MW, skimming the 96,710MW peak set in December 2010.

Nice Airport took itself out of the national grid to cut consumption and ran its own generators to power runway and airport lighting. In Nice, Cannes and Menton shops and businesses were told to switch off external lighting and Alpes-Maritimes department switched off road lights except in tunnels.

Hunters in Alpes-Maritimes have also been banned from shooting migrating birds such as woodcock, thrush, blackbirds, dove and waterfowl as they have been weakened by the bad weather.

Photo: Vasiliy Koval - Fotolia.com

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