Powerful windstorm batters France, killing 2 and leaving 600 000 homes without power

Powerful windstorm batters France, killing 2 and leaving 600 000 homes without power

Severe weather, including snowfalls and hurricane-force winds, has been affecting the central-southern and south-eastern areas of the France over the past 48 hours, causing at least two fatalities. Some 600 000 properties lost electricity, the highest such number since a monster storm in 1999. Severe weather is forecast to continue affecting the country over the next 24 hours. The storm, named Zeus, will then exit into the Mediterranean Sea and rapidly deepen as it moves toward Italy. Severe to extremely severe wind gusts are expected this evening and tonight.

This powerful windstorm was produced by rapidly deepening cyclone coming from the British Isles toward Northern France this morning. An intense sting jet has developed within the cyclone, Severe Weather Europe reports, traveling right across Brittany, NW France.

Meteo France has updated the number of departments on Orange alert to 31 this morning and urged residents to be vigilant, stay off the rooftops and secure objects that are liable to be blown away.

The departments on Orange alert, as of Monday morning, March 6, are: Cantal, Corse-du-Sud, Haute-Corse, Loire, Haute-Loire, Lozère, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Allier, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Cher, Corrèze, Côtes-d'Armor, Creuse, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Morbihan, Deux-Sèvres, Vendée, Vienne, Haute-Vienne, Alpes-Maritimes, Dordogne, Gironde, and Var.

The agency said that significant damage could be caused by the wind as well as disruptions to local traffic. There is also a possibility of cuts to electricity and telephone lines, it warned.

The town of Camaret, in Brittany, saw record-breaking winds of 193 km/h (120 mph) during Monday morning. Winds reaching 191 km/h (119 mph) were recorded in Ouessant, 180 km/h (112 mph) in l’Ile de Groix and 170 km/h (105 mph) in Pointe du Raz.

As of 07:00 UTC on March 6, local media reported two deaths, including one in the municipality of Seyne-sur-Mer and one in Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur). Two injuries in the Aveyron Department (Occitanie Region) and one person missing in Marseille have also been reported.

Tens of thousands have lost power by 12:00 UTC today. By the end of the day, some 600 000 properties lost electricity, according to power distributor Enedis. It was the highest such number since a monster storm in 1999 that left scores dead and three million households without power.

Over the next 24 hours, severe weather is forecast to continue affecting the country. 

The storm will exit into the Mediterranean Sea, redevelop and intensify late March 6 and into March 7 as it moves toward Italy. Severe to extremely severe wind gusts this evening and tonight.

Featured image: Powerful windstorm batters France on March 6, 2017. Credit: Francoise Blanchard/PresseOcean

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