Weather report. From Nice to Marseille, the drought worries the Mediterranean coast


In Toudon, near Nice, only a trickle of water still flows at the village fountain: the drought alert has been triggered in the Alpes-Maritimes and the next few months will be crucial, warn meteorologists, refusing however any catastrophism in a usually arid Paca region. “It’s one of the most remarkable winter droughts of the last sixty years, but it’s not yet a major crisis situation”, summarizes Philippe Gourbesville, hydrologist at the University of the Côte d’Azur.

Rainfall down 48%

In Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (Paca), the rainfall deficit reached 30% between September and March, the traditional period of groundwater recharge. And the Alpes-Maritimes department was particularly affected, with precipitation down 48%, the result in particular of a “particularly complicated month of January with only 4.2 mm of rain”, according to Simon Mittelberger, climatologist at Météo- France. In the Bouches-du-Rhône, the deficit reaches only 8%.

“Since 1959, this has been the second lowest value for the Alpes-Maritimes after the 1989-1990 season”, specifies Cécile Guyon, head of climate services and forecasting at Météo-France southeast. The Var river testifies to this phenomenon, with a flow of 10 m3 per second at the end of March at the height of Nice, “a situation which normally corresponds to the beginning of July”, underlines Philippe Gourbesville. But if “the situation is worrying in the Alpes-Maritimes, it could be completely offset by rains in April-May. These two months will be decisive”, insists Simon Mittelberger.

“This phenomenon will increase”

“It’s hard to say if the drought is getting worse in Paca”, warns Joël Guiot, from Cerege (European Center for Research and Education in Environmental Geosciences): “When we look at the precipitation curves of the last years, it’s not very clear, (…) not at all like for the temperatures, where there the elevation is clear. »

However “on the coastal strip, there is clearly a decrease in rainfall”, however recognizes this specialist. “And when we look at the climate models, we see that this phenomenon will increase, especially since the Mediterranean episodes are also increasing, and are more and more violent, so the water does not have time to s ‘infiltrate’ into the soil.

Restrictions announced

Without waiting for hypothetical rains in April and May, restrictions have already been announced on Thursday by the Alpes-Maritimes prefecture for two thirds of the municipalities in the department: filling swimming pools prohibited, such as washing cars or watering between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Likewise, the fountains and water games are now closed, the roads can no longer be cleaned with plenty of water.

The situation is also closely monitored by the firefighters of Bouches-du-Rhône, who estimate “a month and a half in advance” the state of drought of the vegetation, which has already led “to significant interventions for some days,” they said at a press conference on Thursday. “But we have good hopes of doing the rain dance” and of having results, tries to reassure Vincent Pastor, from the natural risks and forest fires group: “It is April that will condition the season. »

The specter of the 2017 disaster

More worried, Paul Marquis, weather expert for the firefighters of Bouches-du-Rhône, fears to relive 2017 and its “almost record drought throughout the year”: “We are starting from the bases of 2017, very bad bases “, he worries, also highlighting the winter “the least snowy since 1959” in the Hautes-Alpes, “the water tower of Provence”.

Be careful, however, tempers Philippe Gourbesville, because “the main water resources that we exploit are underground and are replenished over several years”. “If we look over one or two centuries, we have already had this kind of situation. The situation is not yet critical. “For Pierre Corbin, the mayor of Toudon, the observation is in any case there: “In 40 years, I had never seen our fountain with such a low flow rate”, he assures, “it becomes alarming” .


Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.

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