Violent storms leave their mark to end France heatwave

100,000 homes without power and trains stranded overnight - while five departments are placed on orange storm alert on Tuesday, after a few weeks in which parts of France saw record high - and low - temperatures

2 July 2019
By Connexion journalist

The heatwave that gripped France at the end of June ended with a bang on the first day of July as violent storms in the south east of the country left 100,000 homes without power, halted trains, damaged buildings and left one man seriously injured.

Meanwhile, Météo France has placed five new departments on orange alert for storms on Tuesday: Ardèche, Gard, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Lozère.

A total 49,000 homes were still without electricity in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region on Tuesday morning. At the height of the storm, some 100,000 properties lost power, energy supplier Enerdis said.

Hailstones the size of "small oranges" fell during localised heavy storms in about 20 communes in Puy-de-Dôme, according to prefect Anne-Gaëlle Baudouin-Clerc.

Massive hailstones also fell in the Loire, and firefighters were called out nearly 300 times. In Rive-de-Gier, a 39-year-old refuse collector needed hospital treatment after being struck by lightning just before 8pm.

One train, a Paris-Annecy TGV was stranded for part of the night in Isère. Train traffic was interrupted in Vienne, as well as between Valence and Grenoble due to a tree that damaged the catenary at Tullins. Two Paris-Grenoble TGV trains, with several hundred passengers on board, were forced to halt for several hours, despite being a matter of minutes from their destinations.

In Doussard, on the shores of Lake Annecy, the roof of the festival hall collapsed during a concert. Nearly 300 people were present at the time of the incident - but no injuries were reported.

A man was seriously injured when a tree fell on his motorhome in the same town, France Bleu Pays de Savoie reported on Tuesday morning.

Firefighters in the Savoie and Drôme department were called out hundreds of times, as trees fell on to roads and roofs were torn off properties.

In the neighbouring Isère, Météo France recorded a wind gust at 126 km/h in Reventin, near Vienne. At the height of the storm, 20,000 homes were without electricity. A Vienne Jazz Festival concert was cancelled for safety reasons.

The storms brought an unusual few weeks of weather to a suitably dramatic end. On June 11, snow was falling in the Pyrenees, while a weather station in Béziers recorded record high and low temperatures within 16 days.

On June 12, overnight temperatures dropped to 7.4C - the lowest recorded since the station was installed in 2001. On June 28, the same station registered a record high of 39.7C.

Meanwhile, in Nantes, the 5C recorded on June 11 is the third lowest recorded for the month of June since 1974. The June 30 temperature of 38.6C was the highest for the city in 45 years.

"Nationwide, between June 5 and 15, we had fairly cool or very cool temperatures for a June month. It was due to the low pressure conditions. No region had escaped it," Emmanuel Demaël, a forecaster at Météo France, told Le Parisian.

"Around June 10 or 15, some people were wondering if summer was coming."

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