What is with all this stormy weather? 

storm monaco

Storms down south, sunshine to the north… What is going on with the weather in France and Monaco at the moment, and can it all be blamed on a “marais barométrique”? 

For more than two weeks now, the weather in France has been split along a clear divide between the north and south of the country. While the northern regions have experienced high temperatures and little to no rainfall, some for almost a month, the southern reaches have spent a fortnight or longer under ever-changing skies that often bring rain and storms in the afternoons. 

This phenomenon is called a “marais barométrique” in French, or “barometric swamp”. It refers to centers of action where two weather patterns meet. In this case, that’s the high pressure to the north caused by an anticyclone over the UK and the still and heavy low pressure in the south.  

Météo France has explained the current situation in the south of France in a general forecast: “In this zone, the morning generally begins under a strong sun. [Then] quickly, with rising temperatures, the first cumulus form. They sometimes become cumulonimbus, storm clouds, especially on mountain ranges. Because they are located in a barometric swamp area, these thunderstorms are not very mobile. Thus, they can dump large amounts of water in a very short time, sometimes 50 to 100mm in one hour.” 

While the extra rain is welcome given the dire situation of reservoirs and natural water resources across France, sun lovers in the south of France will be pleased to hear that these could be the final days of storms in the area. Sunny skies are set to return in the coming days, bringing with them temperatures that could break the 30°C threshold for the first time this year.  

Temperatures 2.5°C above normal 

Recently, temperatures up north have out-stripped the south. In Lille, for example, where rain hasn’t fallen since the start of May, the mercury climbed to 32.4°C at the weekend, while Nice’s hottest day of the year so far was in May at 26.3°C. That said, across the country, temperatures have been warmer than average since the start of June by 2.5°C. 


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Photo source: Anandu Vinod for Unsplash