Powerful windstorm kills 2, leaves 400 000 homes without power in southern France

Powerful windstorm kills 2, leaves 400 000 homes without power in southern France

A violent storm with powerful winds up to 174 km/h (108 mph) hit southern France on Thursday evening, December 12, 2019, through Friday, December 13. Two people have been killed and 5 others injured, while at least 400 000 families were left without electricity.

Floodwaters were as much as 2.7 m (9 feet) deep in some areas, rising by 30 cm (11.8 inches) per hour.

Access to the skiing stations of Gourette and Artouste was cut off due to floods and landslides, while the distribution of drinkable water in the commune of Laruns was interrupted, the AFP reports. In the nearby Landes department, about 600 people were evacuated on Friday as a preventive measure in areas where the Gaves de Pau and Oloron rivers converge.

Weather services warned residents and tourists visiting the French Alps of heightened avalanche risk.

At one point, some 400 000 homes were without power, according to grid operator Enedis. By Friday afternoon, 170 000 were still without electricity. 14 departments were under high wind and flooding alerts.

During the same period, weather service Meteo France said eight departments, particularly in the Occitanie region near the Mediterranean, were still on alert, as well as the island of Corsica.

Authorities closed beaches in the popular surfing towns of Biarritz and Anglet in anticipation of dangerous waves during the high tide.

A 70-year-old man died in the Pyrenees-Atlantique in the Basque Country when his vehicle struck a fallen tree. Another person, a 76-year-old man was killed in Espiens, Lot-et-Garonne after rising waters swept him away after he went outside to fetch his mail. His body was found more than 1 km (0.62 miles) away from his home.

Five other people were injured, two of them seriously, when trees fell on their vehicles.

Featured image credit: Meteo France

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