Record-Warm February Brings Early Summer to Southern France

(Bloomberg) -- Towns in southern France on Monday registered record-warm temperatures for February, with thermometers hitting more than 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit).

A northward flux of very warm African air brought summer-like temperatures to towns including Frejus on the Mediterranean Sea and Biarritz on the Atlantic Ocean, said Patrick Galois, a forecaster at weather office Meteo-France. The warmth is causing premature plant growth and has melted snow in Alpine resorts, he said.

In Frejus, a port town on the Cote d’Azur of southeast France, temperatures reached 26.4 Celsius, 3 degrees above the previous February record and more normal for June, according to Galois. Biarritz measured 26.6 degrees Celsius, a record for the first half of February and a temperature that might be expected on an average summer day.

“The normal is evolving,” Galois said. “Temperatures are rising and it’s been amplifying for several years. The month of January was extremely mild for all of Europe.”

In recent days, rain fell in the Alps at 2,500 meters altitude, which the forecaster said is “exceptional.” Warm conditions have already resulted in snow slides, with a risk of avalanches in the northern Alps. “It’s not a normal snow layer like we usually have in winter, it’s more like spring snow,” Galois said.

French ski resorts will get relief in coming days as temperatures drop and a storm system may bring snow and wintry landscapes to the mountains, according to the forecaster. Temperatures at lower altitudes will return to more normal values, even if not actually cold, he said.

Some vegetation has started to emerge from winter dormancy as a direct result of the mild weather, according to Galois.

“We’re already seeing trees budding,” Galois said. “A spring freeze could cause considerable damage.”

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