France's rainy summer - how long will it last?
France’s summer has been one of the rainiest for 50 years so far. Why? And will it last? If you live here, or if you’re coming for your holidays, you’ll certainly want to know. Sadly, the experts don’t agree.
As the French holiday season opened this week, so did the skies. Torrential rainfall drowned most of the country, with only the south spared.
- Paris has seen a month’s rainfall in some weeks in June and July;
- Across the country June’s rainfall was 20 per cent higher than the average;
- In the rain-soaked west, Brittany had 157 fewer minutes of sunshine per day in June and July;
- The central city of Lyon had 120 millimetres of rain more than the average.
Only the south has been spared the deluge. While northerners shivered under their umbrellas, temperatures in Nice in the south-east and Perpignan in the south-west have been over 30°C in the shade.
In neighbouring Belgium seaside resorts have threatened to sue weather forecasters for their gloomy predictions.
No-one has gone that far in France but business has been bad in Brittany. Hotels there have seen reservations drop six percentage points and prices fall 5.9 per cent.
Although Paris’s weather has been bad its hoteliers haven’t suffered, letting 94 per cent of their rooms and raising their prices too. Foreign tourists are still coming to the City of (a bit less) Light and an early start to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on 20 July has meant early bookings by tourists from the Middle East.
Why is it happening?
It’s all the fault of an anti-cyclone from the Azores islands, 1500 kilometres west of Lisbon.
Normally it is stuck between 500 and 1,000 kiometres south of where it normally is at this time of year, leaving northern Europe, including most of France, at the mercy of a depression coming from the North Sea that brings low pressure and stormy weather with it.
Will it last?
Heavy rain is expected Friday in the north of the country and it may continue Saturday.
So new President François Hollande, who has already earned the nickname Rain Man
because his public appearances, starting with his investiture, seem to be permanently accompanied by a downpour, may face another soaking when he presides over the 14 July Bastille Day celebrations.
But there should be sunshine next week, according to most forecasters, starting on the Atlantic coast and moving north from Wednesday.
The anti-cyclone probably won’t really do its job until the end of July, they say, and most say that it is still too early to be sure whether 2012 will be more like 2007, awful all summer, or 1998, a sunny August after a wet July.
Private forecasters Consult throw caution to the winds and predict one of the finest Augusts ever. State-run Météo France isn’t so sure. The month is likely to be cool but less rainy, it says.
TV forecaster Guillaume Séchet says that the autumn should be dry and warmer than usual but adds, “These forecasts should be taken with a pinch of salt, however. In recent years they’ve all been wrong.”
Does this disprove global warming?
No, say the forecasters. France has always had a changeable climate and average temperatures are still going up. Not to mention the heatwave in the United States, the Balkans and central Europe.