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Hail, floods, 224km/h winds: Five die as storms batter France

The equivalent of six months of rain fell over Marseille and grey hail covered Saint-Étienne. Violent gales hit Corsica today

Lightning storms and hail storms hit various parts of France on Wednesday night (August 17) Pic: Pau Buera / Shutterstock

A series of violent storms hit France last night (August 17-18), including a spectacular hailstorm over Lyon and Saint-Étienne and a massive downpour over Marseille that was the equivalent to six months of normal rainfall. 

At least five people have been killed in violent gales today in Corsica.

The Pyrénées-Atlantiques remains on orange alert for rain and floods. 

Corsica was placed on orange alert for storms this morning (August 18) with exceptional winds of 224km/h battering the village of Marignana, north of Ajaccio. In Ajaccio itself, winds of up to 131km/h were recorded. 

Five people are reported to have been killed, including a 13-year-old girl and a 72-year-old woman, on the island due to a falling tree and roof. At least 13 people are reported to be injured. 

France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has announced that he plans to visit the island later today. 

Hail and 130km/h wind in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

A massive hailstorm hit the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes yesterday afternoon, including over Saint-Étienne and Lyon. This caused disruption to transport services, while a thick carpet of hail settled in some parts of Saint-Étienne. 

Meanwhile, winds of up to 130km/h were recorded during some parts of the day. 

The storms over Lyon caused the temperature in the city to drop by around 10C in mere minutes, plunging from 26.2C to 15.5C. 

Locals posted videos and pictures of the impressive storm online. 

Marseille floods

In Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône), which has already been hit by storms, an impressive lightning storm rocked the city. 

Over the course of the day around 70mm of rain fell, the equivalent to around six months of rainfall. 

In the space of around 40 minutes from around 21:40, nearly 35mm of rain fell. 

The Vieux-Port was once again flooded, along with several other parts of the city. 

Elsewhere, over 120mm fell over the village of Lauroux in the department of Hérault, around 60km from Montpellier. 

Crop damage in the Gard

The department of Gard (Occitanie) has been hit twice by hail storms this week, which have left several farms and fields badly damaged. 

Dominique Linsolas, a farmer from Bellegarde (Gard), saw almost all of his crop of apricots destroyed in one night. 

“The apricots were still not yet ripe so the hailstones had to have been large to make this impact and penetrate the flesh of the fruit,” he told Franceinfo. 

Michel Sabatier, an olive grower from Aigue-Mortes, says his plans to sell the fruits this summer “are all over” after the majority of his plot of trees were destroyed. 

If you took any videos or photos of the storms in France this week and would like to share them, please send them to Thank you!

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