A collapsing supermarket roof, felled trees, hailstones the size of a tennis ball and thousands of lightning strikes.
The storms that lashed France on Tuesday (July 11) evening left a trail of destruction.
But they do not come without warnings. Météo France had issued orange storm alerts for swathes of the country, in particular eastern parts, predicting wind gusts of up to 120km/h.
As the severity of the weather became apparent, they were raised to the maximum red level for five departments.
Hail – sometimes measuring up to 7cm in diameter – fell in numerous departments
Véronique Pouzadoux, the mayor of Gannat - in the department of Allier in central France - tweeted a photo of the hail that fell in the village and compared it to a 20-centime coin.
Une soirée rude à Gannat. #grêle #bouledepetanque Merci à nos pompiers toujours présents au service de la population. . Merci à nos équipes d astreintes. Merci à tous de vos marques de soutien pour les gannatois. Une illustration de grêlon @Pompiers03 pic.twitter.com/roUTsVtqpK— Véronique Pouzadoux (@VeroPouzadoux) July 11, 2023
She also thanked the fire crews for their efforts. Of the 190 calls to firefighters in Allier, 150 originated in Gannat.
“A lot of roof tiles and windshields are broken,” the mayor told French news channel BFMTV.
“The firefighters have been working since six in the evening here,” she added.
Further east in Villefranche-sur-Saône - which is situated around 35km north of Lyon - a video capturing the hail in a garden was captured.
In Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, locals reported a big hail storm.
The city also saw violent winds and heavy rain.
A #Strasbourg, à l'écart du gros système d'#orages de la #VigilanceRouge, un déferlement de #rafales impressionnant malgré un écho radar qui semblait anodin. Impressionnant ! Grêle de 1 cm avec @infoclimat @atmorisk @KeraunosObs pic.twitter.com/exYQYDPwvN— Romain DURAND (@Geok120) July 11, 2023
Five departments in eastern France – Haute-Saône, Doubs, Jura, Territoire de Belfort and Haut-Rhin – were temporarily placed on the highest red alert for the stormy conditions.
A red alert advises people that ‘hazardous phenomena of exceptional intensity’ are forecast.
In Jura, 650 people, mostly from summer scouting camps, were taken into temporary shelters overnight due to the storms.
The tweet below shows some of the damage caused in Doubs:
⚡ Ce mardi peu après 20h, de puissantes rafales de vent ont occasionné des dégâts notables et des coupures d'électricité à Montbéliard dans le Doubs. (© Julie Meyer) pic.twitter.com/0egluYc22L— Météo Express (@MeteoExpress) July 11, 2023
This tweet shows a house in the Haut-Rhin department after the storm had passed through:
In Dijon, a supermarket roof collapsed during the storms. Nobody was injured:
Earlier in the evening, a number of trains scheduled to run in the east of France, particularly around Lyon, were cancelled.
One TGV running between Mulhouse and Zurich that did depart was affected by lightning strikes close to the town of Sierentz, with the 355 passengers having to be evacuated from the carriages.
Around 100 stayed overnight in a nearby gymnasium, with the rest opting to take taxis or cars and head back to Mulhouse.
There are also reports of trees falling on train tracks, blocking numerous lines and causing delays to train journeys this morning.
Around 40,000 lightning strikes or flashes were reported.
In Jura, 6,500 homes temporarily lost electricity, alongside 5,000 from Belfort and Haute-Saône.
One village in Haute-Savoie saw 3,900 buildings lose their power at the height of the storm.
If your home has been hit by lightning and you need to make an insurance claim, there is a special form you must ask for from Météo France – our article here explains how to ask for it.
Storms set to subside
Météo France’s morning report for Wednesday (July 12) saw the majority of departments see their storm warning levels decrease.
There are 12 departments – mostly in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region – still seeing tier-two yellow alerts for stormy conditions, but none are facing higher-level warnings.
Likewise, there are 11 departments – all in the south-east of the country – facing heatwave warnings.
Only one of these, Alpes-Maritime, has seen a tier-three orange warning remain in place.
Predictions for Thursday (July 13) see no storm warnings in place in any department, but the heatwave warnings in the south-east are set to remain.