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France will still suffocate on Saturday under an intense heat wave of unprecedented precocity. Two-thirds of the country are on red or orange vigilance, and Météo-France indicates that absolute temperature records could be broken, before the arrival of thunderstorms from the west on Sunday.
The heat wave, which has been hitting France hard for several days, will continue to escalate on Saturday June 18. Two-thirds of the country are now affected by this heat wave: 14 departments are on red alert, with Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées having been added to the list on Friday. And 56 others, from the Paris region to the German border as well as from Brittany to the Lyon region, are in the orange.
Records for the month of June were broken on Friday in at least 11 municipalities, including Carcassonne with 40.4°C and Saintes (Charente-Maritime) with 40°C. The thermometer is reaching highs and is expected to climb further.
Saturday afternoon, “it will generally be between 38 and 41°C in Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes, Centre-Val-de-Loire, west Burgundy and Ile-de-France. Peaks around 42°C are even possible locally in southern Aquitaine. Absolute temperature records could then be broken”, warns Météo-France in its last bulletin on Saturday.
Many festive, sporting and cultural events have therefore been canceled in the departments classified red. In Lourdes (Hautes-Pyrénées), the pilgrimage of veterans – planned for the anniversary of the appeal of June 18, 1940 by General de Gaulle – will not take place.
Schoolchildren and college students in the red zones were able to stay at home on Friday. Only 30 to 50% of the pupils were present in the primary schools of Gironde, one in two in the Lot-et-Garonne, up to 75% in the Landes, according to the rectorate, specifying that no establishment has closed.
Farmers need to adapt
In Haute-Saône, ten students aged 10 and 11 were victims of heatstroke on a multi-sports ground near their school in Pin, where the temperature reached 35°C. They were medicalized on the spot by the firefighters, according to the mayor.
Homeless people also suffer from the dangers of dehydration. In Toulouse, the Red Cross organizes patrols to distribute fresh water to them. “There are more deaths of people in the street in summer than in winter”, underlined a volunteer, Hugues Juglair, 67 years old.
Farmers have to adapt. “I attack at daybreak until 11:30 a.m., and then I can work in the evening, before nightfall,” says Daniel Toffaloni, 64, a farmer near Elne (Pyrénées-Orientales). In his tomato greenhouses, the temperature can reach 55°C.
In Centre-Val de Loire, it is on the Indre-et-Loire that the heat wave weighs the most. Harvest fires are increasing there, with 20 hectares of fields going up in smoke, mobilizing a hundred firefighters. This department, like others, has become a “very severe” fire risk, such as Haute-Vienne, and the prefecture has banned agricultural work from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
High ozone concentrations in the air
With the heat, the concentrations of ozone in the air are clearly increasing over a large part of France, according to Prev’Air, which predicts that they will remain high “in the days to come”.
Extreme heat also promotes the proliferation of cyanobacteria in bodies of water, leading to bans on swimming, water sports and fishing, such as at the Sesquières and Ramée lakes in Toulouse.
From Saturday evening, thunderstorms could arrive on the Atlantic coast, starting in the Southwest and moving up towards Normandy.