Snow and ice: 22 French departments placed on orange alert

The snowfall began last night in northern France and will spread throughout the country today and tomorrow

There are currently 22 French departments on orange alert for snow and ice
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[Update April 1 at 16:35 - Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Seine-Maritime, Eure, Calvados, Nord and Orne are no longer on orange alert, while Tarn, Savoie and both Corsican departments have been upgraded to yellow to orange. This means that there are now 19 departments on an orange weather warning.]

Some 22 French departments have now been placed under an orange warning for snow and ice, as last night’s (March 31) snowfall spreads throughout the country.

The departments affected are: Ain, Allier, Ariège, Aveyron, Calvados, Cantal, Corrèze, Creuse, Eure, Haute-Garonne, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire, Nord, Orne, Pas-de-Calais, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Seine-Maritime, Somme and Haute-Vienne.

National weather service Météo France states that the expected snowfall is “sufficiently notable to disrupt traffic and certain economic activities” and “uncommon at this time of year.”

Hauts-de-France and Normandy already under snow

Snow is already falling – and sticking – in Hauts-de-France and Normandy. There is around 1cm on the ground in Abbeville (Somme) and more on higher ground.

Along the northwestern coastline, the precipitation is mostly falling in the form of sleet.

Temperatures are still above freezing in the Alps and Jura this morning but it is already snowing across the Massif Central and the Pyrenees above 500m.

Snowstorms are forecast to continue today (April 1) in Hauts-de-France and Normandy. They will last through today and into tomorrow across the Massif Central, the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Conditions should improve, starting in the east, from the end of the morning in the northern half of the country. Today’s snowfall should see 3-5cm come down, making for a total of 10cm including last night’s precipitation.

In the Alps, however, snow will begin to fall above 500m this morning. The weather will clear in the afternoon but will worsen again in the evening, continuing into tomorrow.

Several centimetres of snow is expected to fall on lower ground in Ain and Isère, and up to 20cm will cover the Chartreuse and Vercors mountains.

Over the Massif Central the snowfall will also abate after this morning, but then return in the evening and into tomorrow. On lower ground local residents can expect 5-10cm, while up to 25cm will fall above 800m.

There will be heavy snowfall in the Pyrenees this evening, with 2-5cm set to come down over low ground, 20-25cm at 800-1,000m and 15-30cm, or 50cm in some places, from 1,500-1,800m.

The orange alert will last at least until 06:00 tomorrow morning.

A further 66 departments are also on a yellow alert for snow and ice. In these places some snow could fall and stick to the ground, but no considerable disruption is expected. This will be the case, for example, in the Paris region.

Do I need to do anything?

In areas under an orange alert, the snowfall could disrupt public transport and road travel, increasing the risk of accidents.

Local residents are advised to keep up to date with the weather conditions and limit journeys if possible.

If they do need to drive, they should take food and blankets with them in the car and make sure that it is fitted with the appropriate winter equipment.

You can find out more on the Météo France website.

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