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No bright outlook for rest of July

Forecasters say weather systems are "blocked" but at least aquifers have been refilled

DESPITE a slight improvement in the weather for the northern half of France the outlook is not bright for the foreseeable future.

Head forecaster at Météo Consult, Pascal Scaviner, told Le Figaro that France would stay "cut in two" at least until the end of July.

After a soggy weekend that saw Francofolies music festival cancel its Friday weekend main-stage concerts in La Rochelle; numerous Bastille Day events scaled back and summer holidays starting under heavy clouds, there is a silver lining in that rains since spring have helped refill depleted aquifers.

Mr Scaviner said there would be little change in the weather because the jet-stream high-altitude winds were still stuck over Great Britain, rather than their usual position further north.

And although the high-pressure zone had returned to its usual place over the Azores it was much weaker than normal and less able to deflect rain-bearing Atlantic depressions further north.

The northern half of France will see improved weather until tomorrow but temperatures will still be below seasonal norms, reaching 24C maximum, and will then take a turn for the worse again. The best people can hope for is cloudy skies until the end of July, but there will be plenty of rain.

As for the south, the weather will remain very sunny and hot - leading to increased risks of forest fires.

Mr Scaviner said August should be better because the system was "blocked" at the moment but could not stay that way and had to "unblock" at some point, leading to more normal seasonal weather.

That will be a welcome relief for Nord-Pas-de-Calais which has seen its worst sunshine record since reliable records began in 1991. Lille saw just 437 hours of sun between April and June instead of the normal 660 hours. It also saw 50% more rain than normal, reaching 257mm in Lille, 265mm in Boulogne-sur-Mer and 300mm in Dunkirk.

However, all that rain has meant the country's aquifers, left depleted after an abnormally dry winter, have been able to reach normal levels.

The Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières said "abundant rains" (late spring ones in the case of those southern areas that are now hot and dry) had meant that half the reservoirs, especially those in the south-east and east, had reached normal or above-normal levels.

Elsewhere, France was hit by 156,000 lighting strikes in the first half of 2012. The Météorage lightning detection network said this was down 5% on previous years.

Thunderstorms had started in the south-west in April, moved to the south-east and up into the east in May where the number of thunderstorms was higher than for the past 20 years. On the night of June 20-21 alone there were 20,000 strikes, with the regions of Franche Comté, Alsace and Bourgogne being hardest hit.

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