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Weather France Lille Storm Floods

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Floods, storms, snow and ice hit France as January gloom drags on

The sea off Ajaccio, with the Sanguinaires islands in the background, on the French Mediterranean Island of Corsica on 17 January AFP

Weather forecasters warned of violent winds, snow and ice in the east and south of France on Saturday and Sunday. The whole country will be under clouds as it has been for most of a month that has seen 16 fewer hours of sunshine than average so far.

Winds of up to 160 kilometres per hour will hit the Mediterranean island of Corsica on Saturday night, Météo France predicted, and they will reach 130 kilometres per hour in the Alps, the Pyrenees and parts of Provence.

The forecaster warned of the danger of falling trees and other objects.

Flood warnings were issued for the Meuse, Haute-Marne and Vosges départements in the east of the country.

Snow and ice, in some areas heavy enough to disrupt traffic and business, were forecast in the Alps.

Grey skies were expected over the whole of mainland France.

Record low sunshine in January

The gloomy forecast comes as an unusually sombre January approaches its end.

France as a whole had 16 fewer hours of sunshine than average from 1-14 January and 11 fewer for the whole of December.

The north of the country was the darkest, with the city of Lille having only three hours in the first fortnight of January, leaving it unlikely to reach its average of 61.4 hours for the whole month, and Rouen, which has a January average of 58.6 hours, only 2.5 hours.

While Lille hit the sorry record of 88 percent less sunshine than average, Besançon in the east had 65 percent less, Strasbourg 58 percent less and Paris 57 percent less.

A lack of light can lead to depression, sleepiness and craving for sugar and fat.

Seasonal affective disorder (Sad) seriously affects an estimated five percent of the French population and is likely to have been worse this winter.