Weekend storms see 3-4 months of rain fall in areas of southern France

Severe conditions caused flooding, power cuts and rail disruption, while several people had to be rescued by fire and rescue crews

4 October 2021

The weather conditions caused flooding, power cuts and rail disruption in southern French departments over the weekend. Pic: Viktor Gladkov / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

Storms and heavy rain have caused flooding and power cuts in the south of France, where six departments are still on weather warnings. 

Bouches-du-Rhône is on a red flooding alert, while Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Vaucluse, Var and Haute-Corse have been placed under an orange storm warning.

Over the weekend, around 460mm - the average equivalent of three to four months’ worth -   of rain, fell in Villefort (Lozère), with 200mm coming down over the Cévennes mountains on Sunday (October 3). 

In Ardèche, 330mm of rain had fallen in Sablières by Sunday evening. 

Firefighters carried out around 100 operations as a result, evacuating 40 people and locating two missing people who were both found suffering from hypothermia and taken to hospital. 

In Gard, fallen trees caused power cuts affecting 3,000 homes, while the storms disrupted train services across the Occitanie region.

The rainfall was particularly heavy around Nîmes, where pedestrians had no choice but to wade through a flood of water flowing through the streets. 

Nîmes had already been the scene of violent storms earlier in September, when two months’ worth of rain falling over just a few hours saw the A9 road to Montpellier completely flooded by a torrent of water. 

The area had also been victim to a similar weather event on October 3, 1988, when 420mm of water had come down over the city in the space of a few hours, causing floods of a severity that had never been seen before by residents. 

This event impacted 45,000 people, submerging cars, damaging houses and claiming 11 lives. 

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