Snow and ice: nine departments on orange alert, risk of road refreezing

If the snowfall ended on Thursday January 18 in the morning in Hauts-de-France, Normandy and the Paris region, its consequences continued during the day, with an early refreezing of the roads in the evening, warns Météo- France

Snow and ice: nine departments on orange alert, risk of road refreezing

If the snowfall ended on Thursday January 18 in the morning in Hauts-de-France, Normandy and the Paris region, its consequences continued during the day, with an early refreezing of the roads in the evening, warns Météo- France. “The forecasts were consistent with what happened, we expect the weather to improve,” assured the Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, upon arriving in Matignon for a meeting with the Prime Minister. According to the 4 p.m. bulletin from Meteo-France, nine departments are still on orange alert for floods and snow-ice.

From 4 p.m., Cantal, Loire, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dôme were in turn placed on orange “snow-ice” vigilance, then Isère, Savoie, Haute-Savoie , Orne and Calvados from 6 p.m.

Transport was disrupted particularly in Hauts-de-France, the most affected region, where 5 to 10 centimeters of snow were recorded, with peaks of 15 centimeters in places.

The mark of climate change is felt in the French winter. Compared to the period 1981-2010, the average annual number of days of snow has decreased by around two days in the plains in cities like Bourges, Caen, Roissy, Rouen, Lyon, and by three to four days in Besançon or Mulhouse , according to Météo-France.

Risks of road refreezing could affect traffic in a large northern half of France on Thursday evening and Friday. “Frosts are expected in Normandy, Hauts-de-France, Ile-de-France and the North-Eastern regions”, which “could cause refreezing phenomena on wet and/or partially snow-covered roads”, explains Météo-France.

The Paris Prefecture announced, late in the afternoon, that the snow and ice plan in Ile-de-France (PNVIF) had been moved back to level 2, “enhanced monitoring level”. “The measures (…) are applicable from 8 p.m., Thursday January 18, until 8 a.m., Friday January 19,” she specifies on X.

Traffic conditions made difficult

Trains on the high-speed line between Paris and Lille are forced to run at 230 kilometers per hour instead of the usual 300 kilometers per hour, causing delays of ten to fifteen minutes for the TGVs. Although the TER trains run well in the region, significant delays are to be expected, announced the SNCF, and the transport plan has been adapted. On some lines, between a third and half of trains have been canceled, according to the railway group.

In Amiens, the entire bus network has been suspended, but in Lille it is simply disrupted, while the metros and trams can circulate. Elsewhere in France, no major disruption was noted on the rail network, much less affected than during storms Ciaran and Domingos in November, according to an SNCF spokesperson.

Heavy goods vehicle traffic prohibited

In Normandy, where 2 to 5 centimeters of snow were recorded, heavy goods vehicle traffic was prohibited until midday in Seine-Maritime and Eure-et-Loire. School buses also remained prohibited.

In Ile-de-France, one bus in two runs, and several important sections of the RER C, operated by SNCF, are interrupted, just like on the Transilien N and U lines. No or little disruption, however, of next to the metro, tram and RER lines A and B, RATP said.

On the roads, “driving conditions on the network can be locally difficult,” warned the Ile-de-France roads department (Dirif), instructing motorists to “defer” their trips. On the other hand, the level of traffic jams is lower than usual in Ile-de-France, according to the Sytadin website.

In the Grand-Est, fairly heavy snowfall caused major traffic jams in Metz from 7:30 a.m., as well as on the three motorways (A4, A30 and A31) which pass near the Lorraine city, according to the Paris-Rhin-Rhône Autoroutes website. Patches of ice under the snow force motorists to drive slowly, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), and the Metz transport network is at a standstill due to precipitation.

In Meurthe-et-Moselle, traffic is “a little difficult” in the north of the department, but no lane is closed, said the prefecture, while on certain axes vehicles drive at walking pace. Heavy goods vehicle traffic remains prohibited throughout the entire region on Thursday.

Finally, in the air, flight operations seem to be taking place normally, with the website of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation not reporting any significant delays.