This month of June has seen various weather records broken in France, from temperature highs to lightning strike counts.
During the heatwave earlier this month, and its highs of 39-40C, 11 heat records were broken: on June 16, for example, Niort (Deux-Sèvres) saw temperatures of 40.1C, while Saintes (Charente-Maritime) saw 40.2C and Rochefort (also in Charente-Maritime) 40.6C.
Equally, on Saturday June 18, Météo France noted "peaks close to 42-43°C" in the Southwest with 42,9°C in Biarritz (Nouvelle-Aquitaine).
Since 2000, extreme heat episodes have been growing more common in France: for 117 of the country’s 145 weather stations, the hottest temperature ever recorded has been in the last 20 years.
June 2022 has also seen the highest number of lightning strikes in France for the month since records began in 1989, with 190,000 recorded since June 1.
This is over 17,000 more than the previous record of 172,600 in June 1993, which just topped June 2021 and its 170,000 strikes.
The most lightning strikes ever recorded fell in July 2006, when there were 370,000.
June’s high instance of lightning strikes does not necessarily augur a stormy summer ahead.
Météo France forecaster Frédéric Nathan told Ouest France that: “It depends on the year, on the month [...] With climate change, there will potentially be more big hail storms, but we cannot be sure.”
However, heatwaves will become more common as global warming continues, and the mass of hot air that they bring with them is particularly conducive to storms.
“Cumulonimbus clouds form because of the difference between the ground temperature and the temperature at altitude. The bigger the difference, the more violent the storm,” Mr Nathan said.
“For several days, we have had all the ingredients for storms.
“The hot air has been stored up during the heatwave and the cold air of higher in the sky is moving over France. There are therefore hailstones, heavy rainfall, lightning and violent gusts of wind.”
Some seven French departments remain under orange storm alerts today (June 24). These are: Aveyron, Tarn, Ardèche, Drôme, Isère, Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
A further 79 departments are on yellow warnings for storms and floods.
You can find out more about this on the Météo France website.
Storms cause a flash flood in Auxerre
Yesterday’s stormy weather brought the equivalent of a month of rain down over the city of Auxerre (Yonne) in just one hour yesterday evening (June 23), provoking flash floods in the streets and submerging cellars in water.
⛈ Les orages ont provoqué des pluies diluviennes à #Auxerre dans le département de l'#Yonne ce soir, générant des #inondations dans plusieurs quartiers de la ville ainsi que des pannes d'électricité ! (vidéo Elisabeth Sazerat) pic.twitter.com/fB5hs8t6BV— Guillaume Séchet (@Meteovilles) June 23, 2022
The episode lasted for one hour but saw firefighters called out to 100 incidents, fire and rescue crew deputy director Christophe Guichard-Nihou told BFMTV.
“The street was more than a stream, it was a river,” a local resident said, adding that the storm was “very very impressive, it was banging on the windows.”
Around 1,000 homes lost power around Auxerre, but the issue was resolved for most over the course of the evening.