France – Paris, Departments in North and East on Flood Alert as Rivers Rise

Many departments in France remain on orange level (second highest) flood alert as river levels continue to rise.

Meteo France reported that the country has seen exceptional rainfall during January 2018, with some areas seeing 4 to 5 times more rain than normal. Further heavy rain fell over the last few days, in particular during a storm on 21 January that had earlier caused flash floods in parts of the UK and Ireland.

As river levels edged higher, flood alerts were in issued for 20 departments. Rivers were still swelling as of 24 January and Meteo France have issued further flood warnings, with 23 departments, mostly in the north and east, now on orange alert due to the continuing flood risk.

Image: Meteo France

The departments at risk are: Eure, Seine-Maritime, Yvelines, Paris area, Val d’Oise, Oise, Seine-et-Marne, Aube, Yonne, Nievre, Haute-Marne, Meuse, Vosges, Haute-Saone, Doubs, Jura, Loire, Rhone, Isere and Lot-et-Garonne.

Further rainfall is expected over the next 2 days at least.

Doubs Department

Streets were flooded and homes damaged in the town of Ornans in Doubs department on 22 January when the Loue River burst its banks. The river reached 2.58 metres, the second highest level recorded after the 1953 high of 3.2m. As of 24 January, levels of the river appeared to be falling.

Around 40 people have been evacuated from a health care facility in Quingey, Doubs department, according to local media.

Paris and the Seine

The Seine River overflowed its banks in Paris on Tuesday, although only small areas close to the river have been affected. City authorities have suspended river traffic, closed several roads and 7 central stations of city’s RER C train line.

Vigicrues, the flood information service provided by France’s environment ministry, says that the Seine at Austerlitz currently stands at 5.22 (as of midday, 24 January). It is forecast to reach between 5.3 m and 5.6 m by early Thursday, and between 5.6 and 5.8 m on Friday.

In a bulletin of 24 January, Vigicrues said that the maximum level of up to 6.2 metres is expected during the weekend.

During the floods in France of May and June 2016, the Seine at Austerlitz reached 6.10 metres. Four people died in flood-related incidents.

The Association Française de l’assurance (AFA) estimated the cost of the 2016 floods to be between €900 million and €1.4 billion.

The Seine reached its highest ever point of 8.62 metres on 28 January 1910.

OECD Report

Meanwhile the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the intergovernmental economic organisation, has presented a progress report on flood prevention in the Seine basin.

The report found that action to prevent the risk of major flooding in Paris and the Ile de France region has improved in recent years – particularly after the Seine burst its banks in May and June 2016 – but urban and territorial planning needs to be better adapted and governance strengthened. The report also questions whether the flood prevention funding structure is sufficiently ambitious and assured over the long-term.

Winter 2018 Rainfall in France

In a bulletin of 22 January, Meteo France said that some areas of the country recorded 4 or 5 times more rain than normal in January 2018 and rainfall between December 2017 and January 2018 had been exceptional.

Image: Meteo France

During this period (December 2017 to January 2018)  Paris recorded 183mm, the second highest total behind the 213 mm recorded during winter of 1935-36.

It is a similar story for Biarritz, which where 463 mm of rain fell during December and January, the second highest total after the winter of 1960-61 total of 590mm.

Other totals for the period include 428 mm in Savoy, 428 mm in Chambéry and the record total of 544 mm in Bourg-Saint-Maurice (previous high was 491 mm in 1954-55).