The French Weather Service on Wednesday warned of flash flood risks across much of the south, where a historic drought has parched the rugged Mediterranean hills, a day after torrential rainstorms battered much of the country.
Alert levels remained in effect for five southern departments hit by overnight storms, which dropped two to four centimeters (0.8 to 1.6 inches) of rain in less than an hour, with some areas up to seven or nine centimeters reported.
Because the ground had hardened from that summer’s extreme drought—July was the driest month since 1961—much of the rain failed to be absorbed by the ground and instead flowed into streams and roads.
No injuries were reported, but public transport has been disrupted, including in Paris, where videos of subway stations flooded flooded social media.
“The storms are moving east … and can be violent with intense rain that can fall as much as eight centimeters in a short time in some places” and potentially create tornado-like conditions, weather agency Meteo France said.
Authorities also urged people to reschedule travel plans where possible and to avoid waterways or try to take shelter under trees.
“As little as 30 centimeters of water is enough to wash away a car,” said the prefecture of the Var department on the French Riviera.
The rain nonetheless came as a relief to firefighters who have been battling a spate of wildfires across France, particularly in the south-west, with most blazes now contained after burning thousands of acres.
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