The ladies on the bus moaning about the weather are right for once – since last September there has been a remarkable, and it is hoped temporary, change in the climate of what we shall call Eastern Provence. We did not settle here to witness moss growing on roofs as if we were living in an Irish bog village.
The Mediterranean climate is marked by two distinct dry spells, one in summer and another in winter, which is why we usually have the luxury of two “springs” after each of these episodes. But since the back end of September 2012 it’s all gone terribly wrong.
Here are the monthly rainfall figures (in millimetres) recorded at Nice since the weather broke last autumn:
March’s rainfall had already exceeded 190mm as it headed into its last week.
This adds up to more rain than falls on Manchester in a year, and apparently it’s all to do with the odd position of the high-altitude jet stream that has brought such severe winter weather to parts of northern Europe, most significantly the UK.
Our part of the world is well used to torrential rain converting dry riverbeds into raging rivers, but after a day or so it usually all calms down. Here the rivers have been flowing all winter, and they will continue to do so as new springs appear in the high land to our north. Most mud and silt deposits have long been washed away, and so one can see rivers arriving at the coast – the Siagne at Mandelieu and the Loup at Cagnes for example, with water as pure blue-green as if it has just issued from a glacier.
How does this effect Riviera residents – apart from having to tolerate the jibes of sun-seeking friends who have come to stay in search of sun and go back home as pale as they arrived? Vigilance is needed for any sign of subsidence or other earth and rock movement on or near the property in which you live, and make sure you read the small print of any insurance policy you have covering damage to buildings.