Motorway closures and snow and ice warnings as cold sets in in France

Several accidents and traffic jams reported due to poor road conditions. Ten departments on heightened warning level for driving conditions

Almost 1,000 km of traffic was recorded in France this morning. Photo for illustrative purposes only
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France is set to face its coldest day during the current ‘cold spell’ today (January 9), with temperatures below 0C in almost all of the country.

Snow began to fall overnight, particularly in the north, and may continue throughout the day.

In Caen, up to 5cm of snow fell, and around 3cm in the Parisian suburbs.

The snow is causing severe issues for drivers in the north of France, particularly in Paris and its suburbs, as well as in Normandy.

Nine departments are subject to increased weather warnings for black ice/snowy driving conditions: Calvados, Orne, Eure, Eure-et-Loir, Manche, Essonne, Yvelines, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, and Isère.

Two major motorways, the A12 and A13, have been temporarily closed “to ensure the safety of drivers,” and to clear traffic backlog, said a spokesperson from the Parisian police prefecture. You can read the prefecture’s statement on the closures below:

Elsewhere, 48 departments have activated their grand froid plan, providing additional resources to those most vulnerable to the cold.

These are mostly in the north of France, but departments in the Massif Central as far south as Aveyron have also launched the temporary measure.

Dangerous driving conditions

The tier-three orange warnings for poor driving conditions have been put in place because more snow is falling than expected in the north and “icy patches” remain on major roads, says Météo France.

Aside from the tier-three warnings, a further 48 departments are on a tier-two alert for poor driving conditions.

The snowy conditions led to major road accidents near the capital and in the Sarthe department overnight, as well as traffic jams as vehicles were forced to drive at a much-reduced speed.

Traffic watchdog Bison Futé announced that more than 900 km of combined traffic jams were recorded across France before 07:00 today, with over 150 km of this in the Parisian suburbs.

Transport Minister Clément Beaune announced that around 400 vehicles in the Île-de-France region were “blocked” due to the snow, including on major motorways around the capital.

Some videos of the scenes overnight were shared on social media:

In addition, public transport services have been affected – for example, in Calvados school bus services have been cancelled, and lorries above a certain weight have also been temporarily banned from driving in the department.

School transport in the Eure et Loir, and Orne departments is also temporarily suspended.

Read more: Power cuts, tyres, fires: 12 rules for winter weather in France

Will conditions improve?

Today is set to be the coldest of the week, with temperatures dropping drastically due to the arrival of bitter winds from the north.

Despite recording some of the coldest temperatures this morning – -7C in Aurillac, for example – the south of France should see conditions improve from tomorrow (January 10) onwards.

In the north, temperatures are set to stay below 0C in many places until potentially Friday, however it is unlikely that as much snow will fall as this morning.

However, icy conditions may still be a problem for drivers throughout the week.

You can keep up to date with official weather announcements on the Météo France website, which include snowy/icy road conditions (neige-verglas).

It is likely that warning levels will change throughout the day (and especially during the evening) as weather conditions change.

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