[Update December 9 at 12:10 - Gers and Landes have now also been placed under an orange weather alert for heavy rain.]
The departments of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées are being placed under an orange weather alert for heavy rain and flooding, beginning this afternoon (December 9).
The areas are already experiencing showers but from 15:00 this afternoon the rain is set to intensify, continuing into the evening and overnight.
From now until lunchtime tomorrow, 50-70mm is expected to fall in the Basque country, 60-80mm in the foothills of the Pyrenees and 80-120mm in the Pyrenees.
Overnight, the rain will turn to snow from 2,300m but cooler temperatures tomorrow will see this threshold descend to 1,200m. Up to 70cm of snow could fall in certain areas.
Along the Basque country coastline a long, northwesterly swell is expected to hinder the flow of rivers into the sea and aggravate potential floods in the area.
Any flooding may impact roads, rail networks and electricity supply.
Local residents are advised to stay away from bodies of water and to avoid driving down even partially flooded roads.
Some 66mm of rain have already fallen in the last 24 hours in Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), with 51mm coming down over Biarritz and 43mm over Pau. This equates to two weeks’ worth of rain.
France’s official weather forecasting service Météo-France has also placed 44 other departments across the country under yellow weather warnings for flooding, snow, black ice and avalanches in mountainous regions.