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France braces for coldest temperatures in five years

Philippe Desmazes, AFP | People walk under the snow over a bridge in Lyon on January 16, 2017

Temperatures in France on Tuesday are expected to drop to their lowest level in five years as officials and charities announced extraordinary measures in response to the winter cold.


The cold snap in France was due to cold, dry air coming from Central Europe, where icy temperatures were blamed for the deaths of more than 20 people last week in Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and other countries.

Temperatures in France were not expected to plunge as low as in other European countries, but the national Météo France agency said they would not rise back until Friday morning.

Thermostats in the northeast city of Strasbourg were expected to show -6°C throughout most of Tuesday. Paris was expected to reach a low of -3 to -4 degrees, with winds making it feel closer to -9 to -10 degrees.

The low on Tuesday for Bordeaux was -1 degrees, and 0° for Marseille.

Fearing power shortages, France’s EDF electric utility company warned customers to keep thermostats at reasonable levels, and to turn off lights and appliances when not in use.

Meteorologists said the cold snap would be relatively moderate compared to the freezing temperatures that gripped France in 2012.

That year the winter chill lasted two weeks and broke many records.

French officials are nevertheless taking precautions, with special attention to homeless people and migrants.

Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux on Monday said that new temporary shelters would be opened and existing ones would increase capacity. “There will be room for everyone,” he said.

France’s Red Cross said it planned to mobilize at least 1,000 volunteers every night this week.

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