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Update: Red alert in Hérault & Gard

Storms, heavy rain and flooding alert extended to Hérault and is in place until Sunday 16.00

A RED weather alert for storms, heavy rain and flooding in the Gard has been extended to the neighbouring Hérault department.

The warning from official forecaster Météo France is in place until 16.00 on Sunday, although it could be Monday morning before the rain starts to clear.

Three other departments in the south of France - the Lozère, Ardèche and Aude - are on orange alert, the second highest of four levels.

The Gard department was first placed on red alert on Friday, with forecasters fearing the equivalent of six months' worth of rain over the weekend. The alert was briefly downgraded to orange on Saturday morning.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to hit the southern departments overnight, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Meanwhile the area around Avignon, in the Vaucluse, is on flood alert amid fears the Rhône could burst its banks.

The latest storms are being caused by a vast depression over the south-west Atlantic which has caused warm, very moist air to move over south-western France.

Once this meets cold, dry air over higher ground in Languedoc and the Cévennes this sparks intense thunderstorms.

This is the Hérault’s fourth storm episode, with more than 20cm of rain falling in 24 hours on September 16 and 17, September 29 and October 6.

Earlier this week, cars were swept down the streets of Montpellier as the waters in the river Lez rose.

Météo France said at the time that the city had been inundated with the equivalent of more than half of its average annual rainfall in several hours.

Weather graphic: Météo-France

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