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Furnace of France: Battling the Intense Heat Dome on Red Alert

France is currently under alert as the country is facing an unprecedented heatwave with 40-42 degrees Celsius in the Rhone Valley.

Vivek Singh
France heat wave (Photo Courtesy: Freepik)
France heat wave (Photo Courtesy: Freepik)

France is currently facing an unprecedented heatwave, with temperatures set to reach 40-42 degrees Celsius in the Rhone Valley. This extreme heat has caused forest fires and heat advisories. The heatwave, particularly intense in the wine-producing Rhone Valley, peaked on Monday. The most severe temperatures are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday, primarily in the southern regions, which have already exceeded 40 degrees Celsius. Health authorities have raised the heat alert level in 50 of the 96 mainland departments, with the possibility of some areas reaching the highest "red" level soon.

France witnessed its highest-ever recorded temperature of 46 degrees Celsius in June 2018, documented in the village of Verargues located in the southern region of the country.

The national meteorological service, Meteo France, stated that there is a possibility of breaking some records, particularly on Tuesday in the Rhone Valley, where temperatures of 40-42 degrees Celsius are anticipated. This ongoing heatwave is characterized as both "intense and prolonged," and it is occurring unusually late in the season. This climatic phenomenon has emerged due to a period of elevated atmospheric pressure that has resulted in a "heat dome" enveloping the nation.

Following a stifling summer in 2022 marked by record temperatures and rampant forest fires, France predominantly enjoyed a traditional holiday season this year, avoiding the extreme heatwave that affected southern Europe in July.

Meteo France reports that the current elevated temperatures signify the highest point of the season. To escape the scorching heat, many individuals sought solace in public swimming pools, fountains, and beaches. 

Fire concerns

Due to dry conditions, local authorities in France's southern Gard region restricted forest access to prevent wildfires. A fire near the village of Chanousse engaged about 260 firefighters. This blaze consumed roughly 120 hectares of woodland. Higher temperatures disrupted a nuclear plant restart in Golfech and might restrict a plant in Bugey. Heatwaves often affect riverside nuclear stations, which must reduce water usage to avoid warming rivers and harming local ecosystems.

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