South of France braces for severe storms, metre of snow in Pyrénées

Heavy rain will sweep across many southern departments but temperatures will be largely unaffected

Some areas will see weeks worth of rain during the beginning of this week. Photo for illustrative purposes only
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The south of France will face another bout of severe storms this week, as a new épisode cévenol is set to sweep through.

Rainfall will start this evening (March 25) in the Cévennes area, continuing to fall heavily until Wednesday (March 27).

More than 100mm is expected, increasing to 150mm in some valleys.

The powerful storms will grow larger and will be blown eastwards by strong winds, eventually hitting the south-east around Nice on Wednesday – although rainfall is predicted to begin on Tuesday evening in the area.

The rain will be accompanied by gales of up to 100 km/h, and in areas of the Massif Central 1,200m above sea level, intense snowfall.

The storms will die down by Thursday, however there may still be some areas facing rainfall until the weekend.

The last ‘épisode’ occurred earlier this month, when flash flooding caused by storms killed seven people in the south of France, many of whom were driving or in a vehicle at the time.

Read more: Storm death toll rises in France as hunters find body of man in south

Another round of fierce storms

It is already the fifth bout of episode cévénol, or épisode méditerranéen storms this year.

This phenomenon, which usually only occurs around four times a year, sees brief but intense rainfall in the Massif Central mountain range, or in the south-east of France along the coast and in the Alpine foothills.

In colder months, the rain usually mixes with snow at higher altitudes, and heavy gales, particularly along the coast can cause damage.

The storms this week will mainly impact the Cévennes area, although much of the south will see an increase in usual rain levels.

In the Pyrénées, up to a metre of snow will fall at the highest altitudes by the end of the week, with even more on the Spanish side. In the Alps, heavy snowfall at altitudes of 1,500 metres and higher is expected.

Elsewhere, weather in the north and north-west is set to follow usual March trends, albeit with strong coastal winds towards the end of the week, particularly in Normandy and Brittany.

Temperatures across the week will be normal, with little derivations from seasonal averages despite the storms.

Official weather forecasters Météo France have already placed one department (Hérault) on a heightened weather warning for Tuesday (March 26).

This is for coastal waves, caused by strong gales.

It is likely, however, that more departments will see alert levels increase, particularly for rains, stormy weather, and increased river levels.

Read more: What action is advised with different Météo France weather warnings

You can keep up to date with all the official weather warnings through the Météo France website.

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