France, in the grip of fourth heat wave this year, faces a historic drought

Parched sunflowers
Sunflowers suffer from lack of water as parts of France endure its fourth heat wave of the year.
(Aurelien Morissard / Associated Press)

France is in the midst of its fourth heat wave as the country faces what the government warns is its worst drought on record.

National weather agency Meteo France said the heat wave began Monday in the south and is expected to spread across the country and last until the weekend.

Overall, the southern half of France expects daytime temperatures of up to 104 degrees that won’t drop below 68 at night.


The high temperatures aren’t helping firefighters battling a wildfire in the Chartreuse Mountains near the Alps in eastern France, where authorities have evacuated around 140 people.

Meteo France said this week’s heat wave will not be as intense as the one last month, when several regions experienced record-breaking temperatures. But the high temperatures come during the most severe drought ever recorded, according to the government. Last month was the driest July since measurements began in 1959.

Some French farmers have started to see drops in production, especially in soy, sunflower and corn yields.

Records are tumbling as temperatures are rising across Europe, where a monster heat wave is fueling wildfires and causing deaths. The mark in London hits about 104 Fahrenheit.

July 19, 2022

Water restrictions in place include daytime irrigation bans and the limiting of water usage to people and livestock and to keeping aquatic species alive.

The government said last week that more than 100 municipalities can’t provide drinking water through taps and need water to be trucked in.


The heat also forced energy giant EDF to temporarily cut power generation at some of its nuclear plants, which use river water to cool reactors.