One dead and 40,000 French homes without power after winter storms

Much of southwestern France was on weather alert Saturday and 40,000 homes without power following gale-force winds and flooding that left one person dead, another missing and five injured.

One dead and 40,000 French homes without power after winter storms
A road sign reading " road closed " is pictured in a flooded neighbourhood following heavy rains in Peyrehorade, southwestern France, on December 14, 2019. Photo: Iroz Gaizka / AFP
The department of Pyrenees-Atlantique in the Basque Country was downgraded by the weather service Meteo France however from the maximum level red alert to orange.
A 70-year-old man died there Friday when his vehicle struck a tree that had fallen into the road during the storms.
Five others were injured, two seriously, when trees fell on their vehicles.
In Espeins in the Lot-et-Garonne region a man in his seventies was swept away by rising waters when he went out to fetch his mail and has been missing since.
Rescuers resumed searches on Saturday as floods inundated parts of the region with waters rising to up to nearly nine feet and by 30 centimetres per hour in some areas. Lot-et-Garonne was placed under red alert for floods.
A firefighter holds a teddy bear as he inspect a flooded neighbourhood following heavy rains in Peyrehorade, southwestern France. Photo: Iroz Gaizka / AFP   
A rugby rematch between Cardiff Blues and Pau for the European Challenge Cup in the city of Pau was initially cancelled but finally went ahead, ending with a victory for the French side.
Flooding and landslides cut off access to the skiing stations of Gourette and Artouste, while the distribution of drinkable water in the commune of Laruns was interrupted.
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.
“We are getting used to this now,” a weary pensioner who gave his name as Christian told AFP. “We put everything on the upper levels, and we clear out everything from the garage,” he said.
But water levels were slowly falling in the area, local rescue force commander Olivier Loustau told AFP, and clean-up operations would probably start Sunday.
The Alps, where weather services had warned of heightened avalanche risk, were downgraded Saturday from the orange alert level, as was upper Corsica where winds had been packing speeds of up to 150 km/h.
French electricity utility Enedis said 40,000 houses were still without power in the late afternoon Saturday, primarily in southwestern France.


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Weather: Germany braces for heavy rainfall through weekend

Thanks to the weather front ‘Peggy’, which is moving west over Germany, the Bundesrepublik is seeing storms strike and saying goodbye to summer weather.

Weather: Germany braces for heavy rainfall through weekend

Rain and strong gusts of winds were expected throughout Germany on Thursday, with the western part of the country to see the heaviest downpour, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

The wet weather will intensify in the afternoon, moving north to Berlin and Hamburg.

The mercury was set to stretch between 17C and 25C throughout the country, according to DWD, with northern areas experiencing the coolest temperatures.

‘Long-awaited rainfall’

The storms were welcomed in drought-hit parts of western Germany, which has seen record heat over the past few years. 

“Peggy is a heroine. She is bringing long-awaited rainfall in the dry west,” wrote DWD in its weather report Thursday. 

READ ALSO: More floods, droughts, and heatwaves: How climate change will impact Germany

Yet they also pose a risk for flooding, particularly in parts of northwestern Germany, where between 30 and 50 liters of water per square meter were predicted to fall throughout the day.

“Even if the rain is certainly more of a blessing than a curse for many, these amounts also carry the risk of flooding streets or filling up cellars,” wrote DWD.

Rain will continue around the country on Friday. In the east and southeast, the sun is expected to shine again by the late afternoon, with the mercury reaching around 21C. 

Storms stretch into weekend

Saturday will likely be the coldest day of the week with highs of only 17C in some places, particularly along the coasts. Yet eastern regions will see the mercury rise between 18C and 22C.

The DWD advised to “keep an umbrella around as a faithful companion” as the wet weather continues.

On Sunday, stormy weather will slowly calm down and the showers will retreat to the southeast parts of the country. The mercury is set to hover around a nationwide average of 22C and 23C.