Southwest France braces for violent storms

National forecaster Météo-France puts nine departments on orange alert with storms expected from 5pm

Residents of nine departments in the southwest of France have been warned to batten down the hatches ahead of violent storms from Tuesday afternoon.

National forecaster Météo-France has issued orange weather alerts for Charente (16), Charente-Maritime (17), Dordogne (24), Gers (32), Gironde (33), Landes (40), Lot-et-Garonne (47), Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64) and Hautes-Pyrénées (65).

The storms, which are expected to be accompanied by hail, strong electrical activity, winds of up to 120kph and up to 40mm of rainfall in just an hour are forecast to hit the Basque coast from about 5pm, and spread quickly across the Aquitaine region.

Météo-France's latest weather warning map

Before the storms hit in the late afternoon, the southwest of France is expected to bask in temperatures of between 33C and 38C.

Another 41 departments were placed on yellow alert in the forecaster's early Tuesday bulletin - a level lower than orange on the four-colour scale - with storms and strong winds expected to spread east and north throughout the evening and overnight.

The current alert predicts that the storms will persist until at least midnight, with Wednesday's forecast predicting rain and further storms across most of the country.

Meanwhile, residents on the Italian side of the Alps, 30cm of snow fell at high altitudes over the weekend.

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