French power levels soar as big freeze bites
Most of France remained on high alert on Wednesday as Arctic conditions continued to bite a day after electricity consumption in the country hit record levels as residents battled the bitter cold. Freezing temperatures are set to continue.
France remained in the tight grip of the big freeze on Wednesday with over two thirds of the country still on high alert because of treacherous conditions.
On Tuesday evening electricity consumption hit record levels in the country despite warnings being issued to save power during the cold snap.
National weather service Météo France predicted minimum temperatures could drop as low as -12°C on Wednesday.
People are also being advised to take care when travelling on the country’s icy roads.
The weather has affected flights at the country’s airports, including Paris’s Charles de Gaulle, which has already been crippled by an Air France strike.
Threat of power blackouts
There were concerns on Tuesday that parts of France would be hit by power blackouts as the levels of electricity consumption soared as people turned up their heating to battle the big chill.
At the peak time of 7pm on Tuesday, electricity consumption hit a total of 100.500 megawatts (MW) beating the previous record of 96.71 megawatts set in 2010.
RTE, the company that runs the national grid, has assured the public that they would be able to cope with the soaring levels of power and stated that there will not be power cuts.
But in Brittany, a region vulnerable to power outages, residents have been advised to reduce the amount of electricity used.
In the southwest of France, thousands of homes in Toulouse, as well as several schools and a retirement home were left without heating during the freezing conditions after a heating system failed.
France on ‘orange alert’
In all, 55 departments across France were placed on ‘vigilance orange’ – the second highest alert on Wednesday because of the “exceptional” conditions.
From the Alsace and the Auvergne to the Dordogne and Charente residents have been advised to take precaution and ‘keep up to date with the changing situation’.
The Arctic spell which has claimed more than 400 lives across Europe will continue to bite over the coming days, forecasters say.
The freezing conditions continue to claim the lives of several people in France.
A retired couple were reportedly found dead in their flat in Villetaneuse, Seine-Saint-Denis after being poisoned by carbon monoxide gas from a faulty heater. A farmer in Vaucluse was also killed trying to clear ice from the roofs of his greenhouses.