The red alert decreed shortly after 2 a.m. was lifted at 6 a.m. by Météo-France.
“The Nîmes urban area was hit by a violent storm during the night, up to 135 millimeters of rain fell,” a spokesman for the Gard fire department told AFP.
Faced with these downpours, the emergency services carried out “fifteen safety measures” for motorists who were welcomed in a gymnasium and gradually returned to their homes, he added. The firefighters also carried out around fifty minor interventions (manhole covers raised by the water, etc.) still in the Nîmes region.
Some 400 firefighters had been mobilized in the department, including 84 flood specialists, according to the firefighters’ spokesperson.
According to Météo-France, a gust of 100 km/h was recorded at Montpellier-airport.
Wednesday morning, the Gard, like the two neighboring departments of Hérault and Vaucluse, remain on orange alert, both for rains and floods and for thunderstorms.
Eight other departments (Ain, Ardèche, Bouches-du-Rhône, Drôme, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire and Rhône) are placed on orange vigilance for thunderstorms, in the morning bulletin of Météo France.
The Gard and the Hérault had been placed in absolute vigilance Tuesday afternoon for three hours, due to “stationary thunderstorms” – the first of the season – and significant volumes of precipitation.
Red vigilance is activated in the event of “very violent storms, likely to locally cause very significant damage”, in particular “on dwellings, parks, crops and plantations”.
The populations are then invited to stay at home, in a permanent building, and not to use their vehicle.
– No casualties –
Some 150 to 180 mm of water had been recorded “in less than three hours” in the south-east of Hérault and the south-west of Gard, before the bulk of the storms shifted to sea, had indicated the meteorological institute, but no victim or significant intervention had been reported, according to the emergency services.
Tuesday afternoon, the first heavy rains had first affected municipalities located about ten kilometers north of Montpellier. In the center of Montpellier, the electrical activity had been intense and heavy rains had lasted a good hour in the afternoon, according to AFP journalists, but activities and public transport could be maintained.
In the south-east, unstable conditions will continue on Wednesday, with periods of calm. Stormy periods are expected, particularly from midday until next night, sweeping from west to east Hérault and Gard, then Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône, with in places hail and gusts of up to 80 to 100 km/h.
In the center-east, the storms will start on Wednesday afternoon in the Massif Central, and will take on a severe character between Haute-Loire, Loire and Rhône before continuing their journey towards the North, Isère and Ain at the end of the day. .
In the Grand Est region, after sometimes virulent thunderstorms on Tuesday evening, which caused hailstorms in the south of Champagne, Météo-France lifted its orange alert on all the departments of the region.