France is experiencing record-high temperatures for this time of year, particularly in its southern regions. It’s exactly the type of event amplified by global warming, meteorologists explain.
Several cities across France are reporting temperatures of 24°C-25°C (75-77 °F). Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, two cities close to the Pyrénées Mountains, as well as Tarbes and Perpignan are reporting record heat for what is supposed to be a winter month.
The heatwave comes in the context of an already mild winter. François Jobard, a meteorologist forecaster at Météo-France said that this is an “abnormal event”, marking the second-hottest start of February since 1900. Simply put, these are temperatures you’d expect to see in June, not February.
The warm wave of air is coming from the Azores and the subtropical Atlantic area, Jobard explains. While a cold spell is likely to follow this unusually warm period, it seems that the winter will continue to be relatively warm.
“We will continue to see temperatures that are higher than the normal average. This does not rule out several short, colder periods, but the trend will stay mild. After this peak of warmth, we will see a maximum on Monday (February 3), but on Tuesday (February 4) temperatures will cool down noticeably and be closer to normal.”
It’s always difficult to pinpoint singular events as being caused by global warming. However, this is exactly the type of event you’d expect to become more common as our planet continues to heat up. In Perpignan, the average high temperatures in February are around 12°C (54 °F), and they’re usually recorded towards the end of the month. Temperatures in Perpignan are expected to reach 26°C (74 °F) today.
It’s not just that global heating is driving up temperatures worldwide, but it is also causing imbalances in global wind circulation. Our planet heating up is causing heatwaves (and even cold spells) to become more frequent, so it’s much more likely to see temperature spikes such as the ones in southern France in the future.
“Overall we have warmer air masses than before, so with an equal meteorological situation, we tend to beat more records of smoothness than in the past “, Jobard concludes.
Scientists are concerned that the unusually warm weather might also trigger avalanches in the Alps.