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First heat wave of year headed for France next week and set to linger

Temperatures could reach 35°C in the south west, and the heat should last for at least a week, worsening the situation for France’s already dry soils

France is set to experience the first heat wave of the summer from next week Pic: Lamyai / Shutterstock

Temperatures are expected to rise in France from Monday (May 9) as the first hot weather of the summer arrives. 

The northern half of France should see temperatures above 25°C, while in the southern half they should reach 30°C for the first time this year, according to predictions from forecasting service Chaîne Météo. 

Paris could see 29°C heat, while in the south-west temperatures may get to 35°C, with little wind.

This is being caused by an anticyclone coming up from the Azores, bringing with it warm, subtropical air, and which will replace the North Sea anticyclone which is currently dominating. 

Chaîne Météo meteorologist Régis Crépet has qualified the episode as a heat wave, because temperatures will be 3-5°C higher than the average for this month across the country and for more than three days in a row. 

“Depending on the area, [temperatures] will be up to 8°C higher than usual,” he stated, adding that this weather is expected to linger for at least seven days.

“If the abnormal heat is more pronounced and continues at night, we talk about a canicule. Meanwhile, if the episode is shorter or more localised, we talk about a hot spell.” Neither of these later situations are expected next week, which is why forecasters are calling it a heat wave.

The hottest days of next week are expected to be Thursday and Friday, but in the southern half of France the heat could last into next weekend. 

Last year also saw early bursts of higher than usual temperatures: 25°C temperatures were first seen in March in 2021. May often sees hot periods, with temperatures reaching 30°C in Paris and 35°C in the south in 2011, 2017 and 2020.

Mr Crépet added that hot, fine weather is near guaranteed to the south of the Loire, but around the Channel there could be some clouds.

Hot weather to intensify dry conditions as forest fires spring up

He also observed that the rainfall deficit has reached 60% to the north of the Seine and up to 80% in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur so far this year. 

“While the temperatures remained mild, evaporation from vegetation remained moderate, but with the arrival of hot temperatures, evapotranspiration will be accentuated and the ground will dry up more quickly, which will make the situation worse.

“We can therefore reasonably be concerned by this situation, even though summer has not even started yet.”

Firefighters were recently called to a forest fire which burnt half a hectare of land near Fontainebleau. 

Up to 60 firefighters need to be mobilised every time a fire breaks out in the area, so as to protect the 22,000 hectares of natural landscapes around Fontainebleau.

This is just one example of several incidents which have occurred across the country so far this year, which has been the driest since 2011. 

Read more: Homes evacuated: Dry weather leads to multiple wildfires across France

Read more: French firefighter pilots plan strike ahead of ‘worryingly’ dry summer

“Even when it rains, the vegetation is quite well aerated and the ground grows dry very quickly,” Stéphane Rivoire from Seine-et-Marne’s fire and rescue crew told BFM Paris.

Local authorities are eager to remind people walking in the area that it is forbidden to light a campfire or to throw away a cigarette butt in the forest.

Anyone breaking this rule could face a €135 fine. 

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