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Storm Gerard hits France with hurricane-force winds

Storm Gerard on January 16, 2023

A powerful low pressure system, named Storm Gerard by Météo France, brought heavy rainfall, strong winds, and thunderstorms to northern and western France on Sunday, January 15, and Monday, January 16, 2023, resulting in significant weather-related incidents and causing casualties and damage. This is the 22nd named storm of the 2022/23 European windstorm season, including two ex-hurricanes (Danielle and Martin).

Wind gusts exceeded 113 km/h (70 mph) in various regions across the country, according to Météo France. The Pointe du Raz in Finistère, located along the Brittany Coast in northwestern France, experienced winds gusting up to 158 km/h (98 mph) on Sunday night while a gust of 132 km/h (82 mph) was recorded on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A maximum gust of 163 km/hr (101 mph) was reported in Carteret on the Normandy coast. The minimum central pressure within Gerard was around 973 hPa.

The Interdepartmental Crisis Management Operational Centre (COGIC) reported, as of January 16, one fatality in the Saint-Mariens Municipality (central Gironde Department, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region) due to the strong winds.

On Monday morning, January 16, approximately 90 000 households were without power, according to France TV Info. The state-owned railway company, SNCF, reported disruptions in service due to fallen trees on tracks in Pays de la Loire, Ile-de-France, and Normandy, as reported by AFP.

Ferries were delayed by rough seas in Brittany for nearly two hours on Monday morning, according to Connexion France. In Pas-de-Calais, heavy rain caused the Hem River to overflow, reaching a height of 1.86 m (6.10 feet) for the first time since 2012.

Storm Gerard on January 16, 2023
Storm Gerard on January 16, 2023. Credit: EUMETSAT

Over the next 24 hours, additional rainfall, snowfall, and strong winds are forecasted for central-northern, south-eastern, and south-western France. Météo France has issued orange warnings for wind and rainfall in certain southwestern departments and for snow in several western departments.

This is the 22nd named storm of the 2022/23 European windstorm season, including two ex-hurricanes (Danielle and Martin).

The 2022-23 European windstorm season, the eighth season of the European windstorm naming system, began on September 1, 2022. Storms that occur until August 31, 2023, will be included in this season.

Featured image credit: EUMETSAT. Acquired at 09:00 UTC on January 16, 2023.

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