Heatwave warnings extended as France bakes
A total 18 departments on alert for high temperatures with little overnight respite in store - while Paris takes action to combat spike in pollution ... and one noisy evening side effect
A total 18 departments remained on heatwave alert on Thursday, with temperatures expected to reach 38C in parts of France.
National forecaster Météo France said that temperatures would range between 26C and 36C for the whole the country, but said that the mercury would rise higher still in the Rhône valley.
It added that thermometers would reach between 34C and 37C in Aisne, Ardèche, Côte-d'Or, Drôme, Marne, Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Rhône, Saône-et-Loire, and Somme, as well as all departments in Ile-de-France (Paris, Yvelines, Seine-et-Marne, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne and Val-d'Oise).
It warned that there will be little overnight respite. Average night-time temperatures are expected to be between 20C and 22C, and up to 24C in Paris and its suburbs.
The spike in pollution that has come with the heatwave has prompted authorities in the capital to ban those vehicles that have a 4 or 5 Crit'Air sticker from all roads inside the A86 ring road. If conditions continue, other vehicles may also be banned.
Speed limits have been cut by 20kph around the capital - and on certain routes in Bouches-du-Rhone, Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin, Moselle, Meuse and Meurthe-et-Moselle
Pollution alerts are in place in the Var, Bouches-du-Rhone, Haute-Garonne and Hérault departments.
Conditions are expected to become more bearable at the weekend, when a "significant" drop in temperatures is forecast, with storms expected to spread from the west of the country from Friday afternoon. On Saturday temperatures, "essentially over the west and north of the country", will fall markedly, Météo France said.
But another heatwave is expected next week, it said.
One side-effect of the high temperatures has been that the cicadas have got louder. The insects 'singing' is the sound of summer evenings in the south of France - and they are especially noisy at the moment, due to the high temperatures.
Cicadas - known in French as les cigales - make a distinctive noise that is well known throughout the Mediterranean region, as the males look to attract female mates.
Although difficult to estimate exactly, experts say their population is high this year due to the rising temperatures, and the animal’s numbers are expected to increase yet further as the hot weather continues.
The insects automatically make their well-known so-called ‘cymbal’ noise whenever the temperature passes 22°, and volumes can reach up to 90 decibels (as loud as a lawn mower or a chainsaw).
Cicadas are not responsive to human attempts to move them on, as they do not respond effectively to outside noises or stimulus, but their noises should stop after about 10pm, when temperatures dip slightly.
The animals are similar to crickets and grasshoppers, but they are said to ‘cymbal’ their muscles to make their unmistakable noise, rather than ‘chirrup’ using their back legs as the other animals do.
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