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Heat records were reached or exceeded on Wednesday in France, with more than 33°C in Toulouse and Cap-Ferret, after more than 37 consecutive days of abnormally high temperatures. Farmers are worried about the predicted drought.
May 2022 could go down in history in France: the exceptional period of heat that the country is going through, like certain European neighbors, caused the thermometer to rise on Wednesday May 18 to more than 33°C in the South, an unusual peak for the season but made more likely by climate change.
The records reached on Wednesday relate to the month of May, which however is not over. They were beaten or equaled on Wednesday in Albi (33.7°C), Toulouse (33.4°C) or Montélimar (33.8°C), Météo-France announced at the end of the day. Most of the records dated from 2017, 2009 or even 2001. It was between 28 and 34°C this week in most French regions.
Every day since April 11 and until Tuesday, temperatures in France have been above normal, ie for 37 days. When Wednesday’s average is confirmed, this period of 38 consecutive days above normal should be a record long, the previous one dating from only two years ago. The “normal” is the reference period 1981-2010.
Very likely drought
Even in Brittany, the island of Bréhat this week equaled its record dating from May 31, 1992, with 27.8°C. It is “now very likely” that May 2022 will become the hottest May on record in France since 1945, beating May 2011, according to Météo-France. However, we cannot speak of a “heat wave”, which includes night temperature criteria.
A related phenomenon, drought threatens the country. Farmers are worried about their crops. The government published its drought risk map on Wednesday and 22 departments appear in red, that is to say with a “very probable” risk by the end of the summer, mainly in the South-East. and the West.
Restrictions on water use have already been taken in 16 departments, according to the official Propluvia website. “It’s a very dry year, the trend resembles that of 2019”, we explain to the water and biodiversity department of the Ministry of Ecological Transition. “The temperature abnormality is atypical and the situation of our water tables is on a fairly low recharge.”
An uncertain summer
The map published on Wednesday “shows that the summer of 2022 could be marked by low water levels (the drop in the level of the rivers) or marked drops in the water table over the entire territory”, summarizes the ministry. Another consequence of the heat: in the Rhône valley, it favored this week a chemical reaction generating ozone, the level of which was described as “worrying” by Marine Latham, general manager of Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
With the disruption of the planet, periods of heat are set to become more frequent and tend to set in earlier in the spring. It’s one of the clearest links to global warming, say scientists – a situation experienced in April and May by hundreds of millions of Indians and Pakistanis who suffered from unbearable temperatures, up to 50°C, to the point of preventing the body from cooling down. The current heat, however, is not predictive of a warmer than normal summer, warns Météo-France.