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France hits a record high temperature of 111 F in scorching heatwave

Key Points
  • Almost the entire country is on orange alert — the second-highest in the agency's scale for weather warnings.
  • More than 50 schools close to Paris were shut and older cars were banned in the capital.
PARIS, June 26, 2019 -- People cool off at a fountain in the Trocadero Gardens during a heat wave in Paris, France, on June 26, 2019.
Xinhua News Agency | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

France registered its highest temperature since records began Friday, agency Meteo France reported, with much of Europe engulfed in a sweltering heatwave.

The mercury hit 44.3 (111.74 Fahrenheit) degrees centigrade in Carpentras, in the southern Vaucluse region. The previous record was 44.1 centigrade, reached during the deadly heatwave of 2003.

Almost the entire country is on orange alert — the second-highest in the agency's scale for weather warnings. And four regions in the southern part of the country were put under red alert — the highest using the same scale — on Friday.

The heat could lead to a 10% cut in wheat production, one analyst told CNBC. "Currently we have very high temperatures in France and we feel that will have some impact on wheat yield," Gautier Maupu, international consultant at Agritel, a French agricultural and agroindustry markets research provider, told CNBC Thursday.

He explained that the very high temperatures can affect yield potential, given that the crops are currently on their last cycle. Production can decrease between 5% to 10%, he said.

If the heatwave lasts more than 10 days, the reduction in yield will be even higher, Maupu added.

It will also make life miserable for many farmers who will struggle to feed their animals when harvests aren't producing enough to keep them going through the cold months.
Fredrik Erixon
Director of ECIPE

France's weather agency has also shared extra advice, given the health risks associated with the high temperatures. The European country is still traumatized by a previous heatwave in 2003, when temperatures rose above 100 Fahrenheit in northern areas for eight consecutive days — the average annual maximum temperature is 59 Fahrenheit. The heatwave in 2003 was blamed for 15,000 extra deaths.

Speaking to CNBC, Maupu explained that the situation for crops is different from the one in 2003. Back then, the weather was very dry and this year, it has rained a lot — meaning that the heatwave this time around is likely to have more impact on crops.

Heatwave will hurt harvests and sales

Spain, Germany and Switzerland are also being impacted by higher temperatures. Germany, where freeways do not have speed limits, introduced caps on speed due to the risk of heat damaging road surfaces.

"Heatwaves usually hit staple crops like wheat, grain and maize, and if the current heatwave in France and Spain continues for a long time, it will have a sharp effect on harvests and sales, certainly in the region of 5-10 billion euros ($5.69 billion to $11.37 billion)," Fredrik Erixon, a head of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), told CNBC via email.

"It will also make life miserable for many farmers who will struggle to feed their animals when harvests aren't producing enough to keep them going through the cold months," Erixon also said.

However, Erixon added that the heatwave might help winemakers, as higher temperatures tend to improve the quality of the grapes.

Climate change

The World Meteorological Organization said Friday that it is too soon to definitely attribute the ongoing heatwave to climate change. However, the high temperatures are "absolutely consistent" with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations agency said.

France's Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday that the heatwave is evidence of climate change. "The abnormal is becoming normal," he told lawmakers, while promising to step up measures to deal with the heatwave and climate change as a whole.

A man sells cold water bottles near the Louvre Museum in Paris during a heatwave on June 26, 2019.
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD | AFP | Getty Images

—Reuters contributed to this article.