France is to be hit with colder-than-usual weather in the first weekend of 2021, with temperatures 5C lower than the seasonal average, as cold wind from the north-west brings a high risk of snow.
On Saturday January 2, the north will see sudden showers; while in the south, there will be heavy rain across the Côte d'Azur and Corsica, with a risk of snow even at very low altitude, including in the Rhône valley.
On Sunday 3, heavy rainstorms are expected in Corsica and Alpes-du-Sud, again with snow at very low altitudes. Light snowfall is forecast from the Grand-Est to the central regions, and in the Massif Central.
Snow, or snow mixed with rain, is possible from the Manche coast to Brittany.
Wind from the north-east will make temperatures feel exceptionally cold, falling to -7C and even -10C in some areas. Temperatures are expected to be a full 5C lower than the seasonal average.
Residents are advised to take steps to protect any plumbing or pipes that could be vulnerable to freezing temperatures, as well as to protect your garden and plants if necessary.
Plants and trees that lose their leaves in winter are less sensitive to cold as their activity is low in winter anyway, but perennials can be protected from the worst of the cold with a compost or mulch made of dried leaves or bark.
Even plants that are still somewhat active in winter can withstand some frost; but a very cold, long snap can endanger them.
Plants in the earth can be protected by a layer of bark, flax, dead leaf, compost or manure mixture. This can add an extra layer of protection for the roots against frost, and can also help to fertilise the plant.
Shrubs and trees can be wrapped in a protective canvas, called a winter cover, to protect their branches - although this will only give protection of a few degrees; e.g. a tree that can technically withstand temperatures of -7C will withstand -10C under a cover.
Plants in pots and tubs are the most-exposed to frost, because the entire surface of the pot is in contact with the air.
For this reason, pots are best-placed in an area that is protected from the worst of the wind and cold. A good way to tell this is to look at your terrace or garden to see where dead leaves collect or gather - this is usually because the wind cannot access them well enough to blow them elsewhere.