ELEVEN departments along France’s Atlantic coast are braced for another heavy assault from stormy seas this evening.
The storms first hit the coast yesterday, but Météo-France this morning put the Pyrénées-Atlantiques on ‘red alert’, its highest warning level, for dangerous seas, while 10 other departments along the Atlantic west - Manche, Ille -et-Vilaine, Côtes d'Armor, Finistère, Morbihan, Loire-Atlantique, Vendée, Charente-Maritime, Gironde, and Landes - are on ‘orange alert’ for high waves and flooding.
Météo-France said that high tides and sea defences weakened by the storms in January and February added to the risk of new flooding as another depression - the latest in a conveyor-belt of storms that have hit France since December - batters the west coast of the country.
The forecaster has described the predicted impact as a “remarkable phenomenon” and warned that the worst is yet to come, with seas to reach their highest on Monday evening.
Late yesterday, the prefecture of Charente-Maritime warned of a strong swell, together with windspeeds of up to 100kph, while in Bordeaux, officials warned that the tidal Garonne could break its banks again, as it did in February.
On Sunday, a 52-year-old woman died after being caught up in strong currents while ‘water-hiking’ as part of a group near Quiberon, in Morbihan.
Despite warnings about high waves, the group of 21 people got into difficulty hiking in the sea along the coastline between Erdeven and Plouharnel.
The woman died despite the rapid response of rescue services, which mobilised three boats and a helicopter to rescue the group.