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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

France faces worst drought on record as fourth heatwave of the year spreads

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France is in the midst of its fourth heatwave of the year as the country faces what the government warned is its worst drought on record.

National weather agency Meteo France said the heatwave began in the south and is expected to spread across the country and last until the weekend.

The southern half of France expects daytime temperatures of up to 40C and they will not drop below 20C during the night.

The high temperatures are not helping firefighters battling a wildfire in the Chartreuse Mountains, near the Alps in eastern France, where authorities have evacuated around 140 people.

Meteo France said this week’s heatwave will not be as intense as the one last month when several regions experienced record-breaking temperatures.

But the high temperatures come during the most severe drought ever recorded, according to the government. Last month was the driest July since measurements began in 1959.

Some farmers have started to see drops in production especially in soy, sunflower and corn yields.

Water restrictions range from daytime irrigation bans to limiting water usage to people, livestock and to keep aquatic species alive.

The government said last week that more than 100 municipalities could not provide drinking water through taps and needed water truck supplies.

The heat also forced energy giant EDF to temporarily cut power generation at some of its nuclear plants which use river water to cool reactors.

Meanwhile, Spain’s national weather agency said the country has never had a month as hot as July in more than six decades.

For the first time since records started in 1961, July registered an average temperature of 25.6C – 2.7C above the recorded average for any previous July.

The southern Andalusian town of Moron de la Frontera posted the highest temperature of the month with 46C on July 24. The north-west Galicia region posted a record 44C (111 F) in Ourense city.

The extreme heat and lack of rain has caused many wildfires and worsened drought in many areas.

The European Forest Fire Information System says 2022 has been the worst year so far in terms of scorched territory and the number of fires for Spain. The agency said 240,000 hectares have been razed by more than 370 fires.

Portugal’s weather service also said July was the hottest since national records began in 1931. The average temperature was 25.1C, almost 3C higher than the expected monthly average.

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