[Update December 13 at 16:25 - some 33 departments in northern France will be on an orange alert for snow and black ice tomorrow (December 14).]
Some seven departments are currently under an orange weather alert for snow and black ice. These are Côtes-d’Armor, Morbihan, Ille-et-Vilaine, Mayenne, Sarthe, Manche, Orne.
12 départements en Orange pic.twitter.com/cZKIuGeuHS— VigiMétéoFrance (@VigiMeteoFrance) December 13, 2022
An additional 48 departments – covering northwestern, eastern and the far south west of France – are also under a yellow warning for snow and ice and/or extreme cold.
This morning, Météo France predicted “snow at low altitudes from the Rhône Valley to the Alps,” with 1-3cm having already fallen around Lyon, 3cm in Montélimar and 6cm in Chambéry.
However, over the Massif Central “rain has replaced the snow”. From this afternoon, a new weather system is set to reach France from off the Brittany coastline, “giving way to icy rain and progressing towards the centre and over the departments on an orange alert, making traffic conditions difficult overnight.”
What temperatures can we expect today?
The weather is expected to be at its coldest across the north of France today, with the lowest temperatures settling over Ile-de-France, Lorraine and Alsace overnight.
Snowfall of 10-15cm is expected over Brittany, Orne, Sarthe, Mayenne and Manche today, because these areas are slightly warmer than the rest of the country, where the negative temperatures are not creating the ideal conditions for precipitation.
In the commune of Luxeuil-les-Bains (Haute-Saône) a low of -10C was predicted this morning, while in Charleville-Mézières (Ardennes) it was already -9C, in Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin) it was -6C, in Metz (Moselle) it was -5C and in Paris and Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine) it was -3C.
The cold is being aggravated by the wind, which is making -6C temperatures feel like -10C, and the -4C seen in Langres (Haute-Marne) feel like -13C.
This afternoon, the temperature is not expected to rise above 1C in the north east, while Ile-de-France and the Ille-et-Vilaine area will see highs of around 2C.
More southerly cities will not be as severely affected by the cold: in Bordeaux it was 7C this morning and in Biarritz it reached 12C. This afternoon, the two cities could see temperatures of 12C or 17C.
‘Grand froid’ measures triggered in some departments
Several French departments have triggered their ‘grand froid’ (extreme cold) plans as temperatures reach -10C in some places.
‘Grand froid’ measures mean that a department must prepare overnight accommodation for homeless people in their area. Such steps have been announced in Paris, Rhône, Oise, Bas-Rhin, Manche and Eure.
In Paris, 30 additional places have been opened up in shelters for vulnerable women, and the authorities are looking to open 100 beds in homeless shelters to reinforce the current offering, which enables them to take in “nearly 200,000 people” each evening.
In Rhône, 67 additional beds have been found, and teams from the Croix-Rouge and Samu will be sent out in greater numbers to pick people up.
In Oise, the ‘grand froid’ measures are enabling a total of 2,100 people to be accommodated each night and the opening hours of homeless shelters are being extended.
Do I need to do anything?
If you are in a department affected by an orange weather alert, Météo France advises that you keep up to date with the situation by following updates from your local authority, avoid going out if possible, and take blankets, food and drink with you if you do need to drive somewhere.
How cold will this week be and where is snow expected in France?
How likely is it that France will require power cuts this winter?
Electricity, gas, wood, oil: do you qualify for heating aid in France?