Five southern France departments still on orange storm alert

Hérault, Ardèche, Isère and Drôme join Gard, where two months of rain fell over the space of three hours yesterday

15 September 2021

Four departments in southern France are still on an orange storm alert after heavy rain caused serious flooding in Gard yesterday. Pic: Meteo France / Mr Twister / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

[Article updated on September 15 at 16:40: Ain, Savoie and Haute-Savoie have also been placed under an orange alert for heavy rainfall and flooding.]

The department of Gard in southern France is still under an orange storm alert after heavy rain and hail caused severe flooding yesterday (September 14). 

Gard joins Hérault, Ardèche, Isère and Drôme on this alert level. It means people are asked to be “very vigilant” as “dangerous weather” is expected. 

A yellow warning is also in place for 75 other departments, covering everywhere but Corsica and the far north and northwest of France. 

In Gard, yesterday’s storm brought nearly unprecedented levels of rainfall, with 244mm pouring down in three hours in the village of Saint-Dionisy. 

This is the amount that one would expect to fall over two months and an “undoubted record” according to Météo France. 

The French state weather service added that this volume of rainfall is close to the record for mainland France, which was set in Montpellier in 2014, when 253mm came down in three hours. 

The storms calmed overnight into isolated patches of light rain but the weather intensified once again this morning, moving first across Gard and Hérault and then towards Ardèche, Isère and Drôme. 

In Gard and Hérault, 80 to 100mm of rain was predicted to fall “in a short period of time,” while in Ardèche and Drôme, the rain was predicted to be less intense but longer-lasting. 

Hailstorms and strong winds are also forecast for the storm area, which is likely to spread across neighbouring departments. 

Gard’s prefecture has closed the department’s schools today due to the weather conditions. 

The orange storm warning is set to continue into the early hours of Thursday morning, while the rain is expected to lighten at around 21:00 tonight.

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