Floods in Paris as city hit by 'near-monthly rainfall in 90 minutes'

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By Euronews  with AFP
People walk as water rushes down the stairs following a heavy rainfall at Victor Hugo metro station in Paris, France August 16, 2022
People walk as water rushes down the stairs following a heavy rainfall at Victor Hugo metro station in Paris, France August 16, 2022   -   Copyright  Credit: Reuters

There are warnings of thunderstorms in many parts of France on Wednesday, in an abrupt interruption to the heatwave the country has been experiencing for weeks.

Violent storms and flooding was forecast for much of southern France, where an "orange" alert — the second highest level — was issued in five Mediterranean departments.

Paris was already struck by intense storms on Tuesday evening, dumping a large proportion of the French capital's average monthly rainfall in an hour and a half. 

By 7 pm, more than 40 millimetres of rain had fallen in the space of 90 minutes, according to the French national meteorological service Météo-France. This was almost "70% of what normally falls in a month altogether", a spokesman told AFP. 

Traffic in and around the capital was momentarily halted as the rain lashed down.

Several Paris metro stations closed their entrances because of the bad weather, not least rainwater that came pouring down some of the stairs leading to the platforms.

According to the Météo Express site, the top of the Eiffel Tower experienced gusts of wind of over 100 kilometres an hour.

Despite the force of the storms that hit the Paris region, there was relatively little disruption and by the end of the evening, public transport had largely returned to normal.

A spokesman for the Paris fire brigade said at 9 pm that "no significant intervention" had been made in the capital except for "a few flooded cellars".

By Wednesday, some of the images posted on social media from other parts of France were no less impressive. In the southwest, violent hailstorms prompted calls for people to take care.

A violent thunderstorm also struck Marseille and the surrounding region overnight, with gusts of winds in places recorded at almost 150 kilometres an hour. The highest amount of rainfall was registered at Puéchabon near Montpellier, with 97 millimetres crashing down in an hour.

Rain and thunderstorms were also predicted across a swathe of northern France on Wednesday, from the Pays de la Loire in the northwest across to the Belgian border.

Thundery showers and hailstorms were also forecast from the Rhone valley to the northeast, with potentially prolonged rainfall expected to fall from the southwestern Aquitaine region into central France.