Jan 24, 2018

Exceptionally high rainfall, Paris on flood alert in second-wettest winter on record

The Watchers
Photo: The Watchers
Photo: The Watchers

France has seen exceptionally high rainfall this month with several places already above all-time record and others 4 - 5 times above average for the month. With 7 days still left, the December - January period in Paris is already the second-wettest on record since data started being collected in 1900, according to data provided by Meteo France.

Many homes were already flooded and traffic disrupted this month as 4 named storms swept the country since January 1 - Carmen, Eleanor, Fionn, and David. Snow was also exceptional in the Northern Alps with up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) in Haute-Savoie.

Since the beginning of meteorological winter (December 1), the jet stream was positioned further south than usual, which explains numerous winter storms, December's Ana and Bruno in addition to above-mentioned January storms.

Rapid westerly wind patterns have resulted in excess precipitation over most areas except locally in areas sheltered by the Mediterranean rim. The cumulative rainfall from December 1 to January 21, reached values double than normal.

Paris, for example, saw 183 mm (7.2 inches) of rain, representing the second-wettest December-January period after 213 mm (8.3 inches) recorded in December and January of 1935/36. 

The same goes for Biarritz with 463 mm (18.2 inches), making it the second-wettest period after 590 mm (23.2 inches) recorded in 1960/61. 

Some exposed areas have already broken all-time records for this period. Savoy, for example, recorded 428 mm (16.8 inches) in Chambéry while Bourg-Saint-Maurice saw 544 mm (21.4 inches), amounts never seen before in this period. The previous record was 491 mm (19.3 inches) recorded in 1954/55.

The 544 mm this region saw represents the average annual rainfall of cities like Perpignan or Marseille.


While Loue has reached its peak, River Seine is still rising and has already burst its banks on several places in capital Paris.

The peak is expected on Saturday, January 27 at 6.2 m (20.3 feet) - 5 to 6 times more than normal - and authorities have already suspended river traffic, closed several roads and 7 stations of city's train line.

Levels expected on Saturday are expected to break the 6.1 m (20 feet) mark recorded in May and June 2016 during massive floods in which 4 people died and material damage reached up to 1.4 billion euros.