STORMS with fierce winds and torrential rain saw 14 departments on orange alert this morning – with a warning of up to 30cm of rain in high areas of Languedoc and floods that have already killed one woman in the Var.
The danger zone spreads from Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the west to Ardèche and Var, where the main danger is from rising floodwater and waves lashing the coast. The whole Mediterranean coastline is at risk of dangerous waves sweeping onshore.
Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège are on alert for high winds which have already hit 120kph on mountain ridges.
Aveyron, Ardèche, Aude, Gard, Hérault, Lozère, Tarn and the two Corsican departments are facing storms that are expected over the course of today and tomorrow morning to pummel the high areas with 30cm of rain on ground that has been saturated in nearly a dozen storms over the past few weeks.
The worst affected area is expected to be on a line from the Espinouse mountains east of Castres to the Cévennes, with rains filling watercourses.
In Var, a woman was found dead in her submerged car at La Londe-les Maures and three other people, including a young girl, are reported missing in floods. Dozens of roads have been closed around Hyères, Fréjus and Saint-Tropez, with part of a bridge collapsing near Bormes-les-Mimosas. Rescue services were called out 670 times, with 63 people saved by helicopter.
The Var prefect has advised people not to leave home and not to drive on flooded roads, especially near the lower Argens, the Gapeau and Nartuby.