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Amber heatwave alert extended to five departments in southeast France

Temperatures expected to reach 36-39°C in Ardèche, Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Drôme and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence before beginning to fall on Sunday

An image of a blazing sun next to a map of French heatwave alerts

Ardèche, Alpes-Maritimes and Var have joined Drôme and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence under an amber heatwave warning which is expected to last until Sunday Pic: Ed Connor / Shutterstock / VigilanceMétéoFrance

Five departments in southeastern France have been placed under an amber heatwave warning by Météo-France, with temperatures expected to near 40°C in some areas. 

Ardèche, Alpes-Maritimes and Var have joined Drôme and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, which have been on amber alert since Wednesday, August 11. 

Temperatures of between 36 and 39°C are predicted from today (August 13) until Sunday, and are even expected to reach 40°C in Provence. 

Minimum temperatures will also be four or five degrees higher than the seasonal average, and perhaps even hotter on the Côte d’Azur, at 23-26°C.

At 05:00 today, most of the areas under amber alert were experiencing temperatures of 20-22°C, while in locations along the Côte d’Azur, including Nice and Fréjus, it was already 26°C. 

People in amber alert departments - especially the elderly, babies, young children, pregnant women and the unwell - are advised to be “very vigilant” to the effects of the heat, taking extra care to stay hydrated and to keep out of the sun. 

You can seek advice on how to protect yourself from the heat by calling France’s Canicule info service between 09:00 and 19:00, Monday to Saturday, on 0800 06 66 66.

There are also 13 southeastern departments - Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Hérault, Gard, Bouches-du-Rhône, Vaucluse, Lozère, Haute-Loire, Rhône, Isère, Hautes-Alpes and the whole of Corsica - that have been placed under a yellow heatwave alert.

In these places, maximum temperatures are expected to rise to 33-37°C, peaking at 37-39°C in Gard, Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône. 

When does hot weather become a heatwave? 

In France, a heatwave (canicule) is defined as a period of very hot weather which lasts for at least three consecutive days. 

For the conditions to reach canicule levels, the temperature must remain high at night as well as during the day. 

The temperature threshold for a heatwave depends on the region of France, but as an example, the city of Toulouse might be classed as in a canicule if maximum temperatures exceeded 36°C for three days in a row, failing to drop below 21°C at night. 

Météo-France's heatwave alerts follow a traffic light system of yellow, amber and red, with red triggering the introduction of special measures from the government to try to manage the situation. 

While weather conditions remain on an amber alert, local authorities will know to pay extra attention to care-home residents, homeless people and other vulnerable groups, to help them combat the debilitating effects of the heat. 

Related stories

Ten French departments on amber alert for heatwave or violent storms 

Temperatures of 30-40C forecast for much of France this week

How climate change will affect major cities in France by 2050

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