Bonne Année 2020. Weather Roundup for 2019

First, belated Meilleurs Voeux. Every time we go into the village, we are greeted with enthusiastic kisses and handshakes from acquaintances and good wishes for 2020, “surtout pour la santé” – above all for good health. This will continue until mid-January, when we’ve all forgotten who we’ve already greeted.

I used to think that only the Brits focused on the weather as a conversational topic. This is not so. Our French friends and neighbours are influenced by the weather every bit as much as we are. And the French have a very wide and graphic array of terms to describe different types of weather.

It’s a while since I published any weather statistics for our part of France, so by popular demand (well, two, I think), here’s a roundup of last year’s weather. Fortunately, it’s several years since we had snow, as in the image above.

The picture for France overall

According to Météo France, the official weather forecasting service, 2019 was the third hottest year since 1900. Throughout France, with a few local exceptions, temperatures were higher than average, except in January and May.

Two periods of canicule (heatwave) in June and July – actually, I thought there were three – saw temperatures soar. And the highest temperature record for France was broken at Vérargues in Hérault on 28th June, when the temperature hit a stifling 46C.

The total rainfall was around the average, but it fluctuated hugely. Across the country, there was a rainfall deficit until the end of September, when the Heavens opened, especially in the South. The Southeast in particular experienced some episodes of exceptionally heavy rain, causing floods and extensive damage in places.

You can read Météo France’s summary (in French) here.

How do our stats stack up?

My husband, known as the Statistics Freak for his penchant for collecting numbers of all kinds, has kept weather records for 22 years. These give us a pretty good picture of how things have evolved over two decades.

We don’t measure temperatures, but we do assign every day a plus (good, i.e. sunny), a zero (indifferent) or a minus (bad; rain, high winds). In 2019, we had:

  • Pluses: 168 (46%)
  • Zeros: 107 (29%)
  • Minuses: 90 (25%)

Despite the hot summer, the proportion of pluses is below the average for 22 years (48%). This is mainly because we had a lousy autumn. October and November were both the gloomiest ever, while December redeemed itself, but was still quite damp. The line in the charts shows the trend, i.e. improving or getting worse.

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By contrast, February 2019 was one of the best ever, with a two-week period of wall-to-wall sunshine and unseasonably high temperatures. Quite different from the previous February, the worst we’ve ever had – and February is noted for its gloominess.

The rainfall reflects the national picture. Several months had well below the average rainfall, but this all changed in October. Our lane became a quagmire where the tractors had deposited mud. If we went for a walk we had to be hosed down on our return.

We had 935.5 mm of rain last year. The annual average is 870.3 mm, but this conceals quite a lot of variation from year to year. We started measuring rainfall in 2004. Since then, the highest annual rainfall was 1,065 mm in 2013; the lowest was 669.5 mm in 2011.

I hate to talk about rainfall, when people in Australia are experiencing catastrophic fires exacerbated by drought, high temperatures and strong winds. I can only hope this situation will improve very soon.

In the meantime, there are a number of ways we can help with donations, either to the firefighting services or to other emergency services and animal rescue organisations. This link takes you to some of those.

Parched landscape chez nous one very hot and dry October

You might also like:

Canicule: the Dog Days of Summer

Five French Weather Phrases

Drought in Southwest France

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