Power cuts this winter: reassuring forecasts from Météo France

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The government has been hammering it for several weeks: the time has come for energy sobriety, and France must prepare for a winter that is tense to say the least.

War in Ukraine, drought, nuclear power plants shut down… The country is facing a critical electricity situation, and, at the height of winter, it could well be plunged into darkness. In any case, this is what RTE, the electricity distribution network, prefers to anticipate, which has planned the implementation of rotating load shedding in the event of high voltages on the network during the cold season.

20,000 homes and businesses in France would then be without electricity for two hours, in turn.

The households concerned will however be notified at least three days in advance, announced RTE, via the Ecowatt system. The executive director of electrical system operation customers specifies the schedule in Midi Libre:

In our neighbours, similar strategies have also been put in place by the authorities. In Switzerland, for example, an extreme case provides for cuts for 4 hours, then a restoration of electricity for 4 hours, and a new load shedding for 4 hours.

We fear, in any case, that the scenario of 1978 will repeat itself, with the approach of the holidays. On December 19, 1978, at 8:26 a.m., France tripped. Trains and subways at a standstill, blocked elevators, cut heating… The situation only lasted a few minutes, but its memory marked an entire generation.

Today, it is therefore a question of avoiding such chaos. Be that as it may, any load shedding will depend on the weather. And while we are worried about having to endure a particularly harsh winter, and therefore, under tension, Météo France has just published its 3-month forecast.

According to the institution, from November to January 2023, the most likely scenario remains “the predominance of anticyclonic conditions, with calm and dry weather, on the European continent. The disturbances will tend to be rejected further north in Europe. or in the south-west of the Mediterranean”.

Concretely, until the end of January, temperatures should be close to normal for the season. The probability of such a scenario, in any case, is estimated at 50% by Météo France.

The service even establishes that there is a 30% chance that the mercury will settle above seasonal normals for the period.

Météo France indicates that there is only a 20% probability that these three months will be below seasonal norms in terms of temperatures. But these are just averages.

“An alternation of milder and cooler periods remains possible,” notes the service.

Above all, specifies Météo France, these three-month forecasts have their limits: “The temperature can be considered globally over the season but a particular event, lasting between a few days and a few weeks, can only be anticipated a few days in advance, by the classic weather forecast”, can we read upstream of this bulletin.

It is therefore impossible to say whether France could be hit by cold spells in the next three months, making cuts… inevitable.