The 5 Most Devastating Storms in France Since 1980

When thinking of devastating storms in France, several names come to mind. Since 1980, France has experienced dozens of storms causing significant material and human losses. Discover our summary of the five most powerful storms that have struck France since 1980.

1. Storm Lothar (December 26, 1999)

Lothar is undoubtedly one of the most striking storms in France since 1980. It blew up to 173 km/h in Saint-Brieuc and Solenzara, causing 30 deaths in France and significant material damage, such as destroyed roofs, uprooted trees, roads and railways out of service, houses flooded by the sea, and one million households without electricity.

2. Storm Martin (December 27 and 28, 1999)

Less than 48 hours after the devastating passage of Storm Lothar over France, Martin arrived with winds blowing up to 198 km/h at Pointe de Chassiron in Charente-Maritime. In Occitania, it reached speeds of 166 km/h in Millau. This storm also caused new material and human damage.

3. Storm Viviane (February 26 to 28, 1990)

Viviane swept through France with winds reaching 212 km/h in Île-Rousse. In February 1990, no fewer than seven storms hit France and much of Europe, wreaking havoc in their wake.

Date: February 26 to 28, 1990 Maximum Winds: 212 km/h in Île-Rousse Material Damage: Uprooted trees, damaged power grids

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4. Storm Herta (February 3, 1990)

Herta is another storm that marked the beginning of 1990 in France, with winds reaching up to 162 km/h in Langres and Belle-Île. This storm is responsible for 23 deaths nationwide.

5. Storm Xynthia (February 27 and 28, 2010)

Ten years after Lothar and Martin, Storm Xynthia hit the French Atlantic coast with winds reaching 238 km/h at Pic du Midi. It caused the death of 53 people and damaged more than 6,000 houses in Vendée and Charente-Maritime, as well as road, rail, and port infrastructure.

Honorable Mention: Storm Ciaran (February 2020) Although not among the most devastating storms since 1980, Storm Ciaran deserves an honorable mention for the record wind reached in Brittany. Several stations recorded gusts exceeding 150 km/h, even 170 km/h. France has experienced many devastating storms over the past four decades. These five significant weather events serve as a reminder of the destructive power of nature. Prevention measures and increased vigilance in recent years have helped limit human and material damage during recent storms, but it is important to remain prepared to face these extreme phenomena in the future.