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Do May’s high temperatures indicate a hot summer ahead?

This month has been the hottest May on record, with temperatures around 3C higher than average 

It is too early to say whether this summer will be hotter than average, although recent trends suggest it could be Pic: Ed Connor / Shutterstock

The month of May has been particularly hot in France, leading some to wonder whether it heralds a summer of heat waves and record temperatures. 

It is currently impossible to accurately predict how the summer will pan out, but if it follows the trend set during the last few years, it is likely to be hot and dry. 

“The May which we have just had will go down as the hottest since records began. We saw an anomaly of +3C on average, in comparison to the national indicator [which collects data on the temperature in regions across France],” Météo France forecaster Tristan Amm told La Dépêche.

However, this does not mean that the summer will also be very hot. The second warmest May on record was in 2011, but the summer of that year was “not very hot,” Mr Amm added. 

In recent years, meanwhile, it has always been hot and dry: “Even summer 2021, which had a gloomy, damp feel, brought average temperatures which were just above normal for the season.

“It is not possible to forecast a canicule heat wave at this stage,” Mr Amm said. “However, we can say that it is a phenomenon that is becoming more and more frequent with climate change; [these heat waves] can even become longer and more intense.”

Canicules – periods of three days or more when temperatures are very hot in the day and stay high at night – normally begin occurring from the end of June onwards, but in recent years have happened earlier in the summer and lasted later into September.

There was no canicule in 2021 but there were several drawn-out heat wave periods in 2019.

Even before the hottest weather of this summer arrives, some 24 French departments have already been placed under drought restrictions and 92 decrees limiting water usage have been put in place by prefectures. 

Read more: France declares drought in 24 departments with 92 water rules in place

Parts of Vendée, Vienne and Loiret are already on the highest alert level – ‘crisis’ – under which non-essential water usages are banned, including on farms.

Temperatures range between 15C and 25C today in France, but could reach 30C in southern areas tomorrow. 

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