Storm batters south coast

Gusts of more than 180kph already recorded off southern tip of Corsica

One weather forecaster in France has put for Mediterranean departments on alert for high winds, as a storm batters the south coast.

La Chaîne Météo has placed Bouches-du-Rhône, Pyrénées-Orientales, Vaucluse and Haute-Corse on orange alert - and warned residents in another six departments - Ardèche, Aude, la Drôme, Corse du Sud, Gard and Var - to take extra precautions.

Already, gusts of more than 180kph have been recorded at cap Corse, 134 kph in the îles du Levant, and 107kph in Toulon. The forecaster warned that exposed areas of coastline could see wind speeds reach as up to 150kph.

The storm-force winds are expected to move into the lower and middle Rhône valley throughout the day and gain strength during the afternoon and evening.

The entire south coast should expect gales throughout the night before the weather calms tomorrow morning.

The latest weather warning comes just a day after firefighters in the Bas-Rhin were called more than 500 times as a violent storm battered northeast France.

The storm was so intense that two lightning strikes and their related thunder claps in the middle of the afternoon prompted some Strasbourg residents to take to social media to express their alarm.

High winds, heavy rain and powerful lightning was recorded across much of the region. Gusts reached as high as 136kph in the town of Berg, in the northern part of the Alsace. In Inwiller, a town about 50km north of Strasbourg, winds badly damaged the roof of a property.

In Blaesheim, two children were taken to hospital after a car aquaplaned on a flooded road.

Meanwhile, the storm caused a blackout of about 2,000 households in the territory of Belfort.

In the Vosges and Meurthe-et-Moselle, firefighters also had to intervene about sixty times for falls and floods, according to France Bleu Sud Lorraine.

A storm in November is nothing exceptional, said Marion Pirat, a forecaster at Météo France. "We can have thunderstorms all year round, even with cold air masses," she said. The phenomenon, in this case, was caused by the meeting of relatively warm air much colder air at altitude.

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