France is on track to experience its driest July on record, the national weather service said Wednesday, with drought-like conditions leading to increasingly severe water restrictions around the country.
"The month of July will very likely be the driest July ever recorded since 1959," spokesman Christian Veil from Meteo-France told AFP.
On average, just eight mm (0.3 inches) of rain fell across the country from July 1-25, less than the previous low of 16 mm which was clocked in 2020, he said.
"We're in a very difficult situation even though we're only at the end of July," he said, saying soil humidity was at record lows and many trees were losing their leaves prematurely.
Farmers across the country are reporting difficulties in feeding livestock because of parched grasslands, while irrigation has been banned in large areas of northwest and southeast France due to water shortages.
The flow of the river Loire for example, which empties into the Atlantic in northwest France, has fallen by a quarter since the start of July.
On the eastern river Rhine, which forms the France-Germany border, commercial boats are having to run at a third of their carrying capacity in order to avoid hitting the bottom because the water level is so low.
A total of 90 out of 96 administrative regions in mainland France have water restrictions of some sort, a record number, according to the environment ministry.