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Storms clear but more on way

Forecasters lift orange alert on Mediterranean coast after heavy rains saw up to 20cm falling in three hours

AFTER a weekend of storms that saw 10cm of rain falling in three hours across Bouches du Rhône – flooding roads and cellars and causing oil-polluted water to spill out of the Total La Mède refinery – forecasters this morning warned that today’s calmer weather would not last long.

A dense band of thunderstorms moving slowly east across Bouches du Rhône, Var and Alpes-Maritimes departments and they were put on orange alert for heavy rains, but that has now been lifted.

Martigues in Bouches du Rhône was particularly badly hit, with up to 20cm of rain falling in about three hours.

Polluted water from the refinery outside the town was washed out of a settling pond and got into the canal linking Marseille and the Rhône, covering about four hectares. Pompiers and Total clear-up teams set up temporary dams to contain the leak.

In the Var, a 14-room hotel in Le Lavandou, on the coast, had to be evacuated after it was flooded.

Today Météo France said that grey skies would cover most of the country - with fog round Paris, Centre region, the Massif central and more localised in the south-west – but bright and sunny this afternoon along the Channel coast and down to the Pyrenees.

However, heavier weather is due again later with rain in Finistère by the end of the afternoon and across Brittany by evening – accompanied by winds of up to 90kph.

Tomorrow, high winds will batter much of the western half of the country, while the south faces new bands of slow-moving thunderstorms.

So far more than 500 communes, mostly in the south-west, have been declared as “catastrophe naturelle” zones after successive heavy storms since November.
Graphic: radar weather map from Météo France

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