Will the mild spell come back in France for Christmas?

Temperatures are currently up to 10C above average although flood and rain warnings continue across the country

Temperatures on Christmas Day mean snow is unlikely for most
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France’s run of mild weather hit its ‘peak’ yesterday (December 12), say meteorologists, with some areas recording temperatures of almost 10C higher than monthly averages.

Although a mini ‘cold snap’ is set to hit this weekend, the mild temperatures experienced are leading people to question how warm it will be over the Christmas season.

It is still too early for precise predictions but forecasts say temperatures will be “above average”.

One point to note is that the current mild spell has impacted the rain-snow line in France’s hilly areas, meaning snow is only falling at high altitude and some areas that often experience a ‘white Christmas’ will be out of luck this year.

Elsewhere, the mild temperatures have not prevented rain from falling since the beginning of this week, and over half of France is currently facing at least a tier-two weather alert for flooding, storms, heavy rain, avalanches, strong wind, and coastal waves.

In the following 11 departments, there are tier-three orange alerts for river flooding:

  • Deux-Sèvres

  • Charente-Maritime

  • Charente

  • Gironde

  • Dordogne

  • Corrèze

  • Lot

  • Ain

  • Isère

  • Savoie

  • Haute-Savoie

In these last two, tier-three warnings for heavy rain/flash flooding are also in place.

You can keep up to date with the warnings using the official Vigicrues and Méteo France websites.

Warmest December ever?

France seems likely to break another monthly record for high temperatures after an unseasonably mild December has followed a hot summer and warm autumn.

Read more: Trees in France bloom like in spring as weather disrupts nature cycles

Aside from a drop in temperatures at the beginning of the month, the weather so far has been mild.

In France’s 49 largest towns and cities where weather patterns are recorded by Météo France, December temperatures are above average in each one.

Temperatures throughout the country have been around 6C higher than average, although in some places the change has been greater.

Clermont-Ferrand recorded a temperature of 16.6C yesterday, around 8C higher than usual.

Even in the Alsatian east – famed for Christmas markets and winter festivities – temperatures have been high, reaching 14.4C in Mulhouse.

Cities along the Mediterranean coast, particularly near the Pyrénées, have recorded temperatures of close to 20C on more than one occasion, and in Nice highs of up to 19C have been felt.

In Spain, a record-breaking 29.9C was recorded in the southern city of Malaga yesterday.

Read more: ‘Face the reality’: France ‘must prepare’ for +4C global warming

Temperatures to drop this weekend

Forecasters say a mini ‘cold snap’ is coming this weekend, caused by high-pressure winds from the British Isles.

Their effects will be most noticeable from Friday onwards, particularly in the north, with temperatures dropping below seasonal averages for the first time in over a week.

Temperatures could vary between 1C and 10C throughout the day in Toulouse, depending on the strength of the winds.

Rain is not expected over the weekend as the bitter winds will be dry and may bring cloudy skies, particularly to the south, as well as frosts in the north.

This dry, cool weather will last into the beginning of next week, at which point forecasters say they will have more precise information on the weather over the Christmas season (many families celebrate Christmas on December 24 in France).

Early predictions seem mixed – rain across much of the country seems likely, especially in the north and west, however temperatures will be above average, meaning snow is unlikely for most.

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