Not a single drop of rain fell on France for almost a month between late January and mid-February, setting a dangerous record for a phenomenon that has never been experienced before during a French winter.
27 rainless days were recorded across France between 21st January and 17th February, according to national weather forecaster Météo France, although the worrying trend will continue well into this week for the French Riviera and Monaco.
However, precipitation is forecast for the region, beginning Thursday 23rd and continuing for an expected five further days. Showers have been predicted for southern France, but even if the rain falls heavier elsewhere in the country, Météo France expects that the national average monthly deficit will be 50% by the end of February.
While some of the reasons for low rainfall can be explained by the anticyclone that is currently over France, which Météo France says is “acting as a shield that pushes disturbances out of [the] territory”, this is only part of the problem.
“Since the summer of 2021, France has indeed been experiencing a worrying meteorological drought,” says the forecaster. “Since August 2021, all months have had a rain deficit except for December 2021, June 2022 and September 2022. In addition to the lack of rain, for 12 months in a row, it has been warmer than the norm in France. The month of February could be the 13th of this unprecedented series. This is the first time since 1947 (date of the first data) that we have observed such a long series of monthly average temperatures above normal.”
This is compounded by the lack of precipitation and snow cover in France’s mountainous regions, which is also significantly lower than normal.
“The snow in the mountains, melting in the spring, provides an additional supply of water to the rivers near the mountains,” says Météo France. “Winter usually allows soils to soak up moisture, and groundwater and rivers to return to their usual levels. This is called the ‘recharge period’, from November to March, [and] is crucial for water stocks to be replenished.”
Rainfall in March, April and May will be decisive in health of natural water stocks for the year to come.
Photo source: Daoudi Aissa for Unsplash