PARIS – All eyes are on the City of Lights as the calendar ticks down to less than a year until the 2024 Summer Olympics in France.
Organizers have already declared the games to be the biggest event ever held in the country. Nearly 10 million spectators and over 10,000 athletes are expected to attend the Olympics, which begin July 26, 2024, and run through Aug. 11, 2024.
The Games of the XXXIII Olympiad will feature nearly every sport, from soccer and surfing to skateboarding and even break dancing.
Due to France’s location in Western Europe, the country’s climate is considered to be temperate and greatly influenced by the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
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Climate data from Météo-France, the country’s national weather service, shows that a typical summer day in late July and early August is much like that of Seattle, Washington, with highs in the upper 70s and lows around 60 degrees.
Paris does tend to see more precipitation than the Emerald City during the summer, with slightly more than 2 inches that falls per month.
Due to the influences of large-scale patterns, the country is home to both temperature extremes and some wild weather that makes forecasting an interesting endeavor for more than 62 million residents.
Paris' record weather
The influences of ridges of high pressure and the impacts of storms associated with areas of low pressure can lead to extreme weather across the country during the summer.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Paris was during a multi-day heat wave that sent the mercury soaring to 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit on July 25, 2019. Hundreds of deaths were attributed to the warm weather, and reports stated the architects of the rebuilding effort of Norte Dame were concerned that parts of the ceiling would cave in under the oppressive heat. During the heat wave, the country saw average lows drop to just about 70.5 degrees Fahrenheit, setting a record for the hottest minimum temperature.
Along with the warmth usually comes humidity that can help spark showers and storms. In some cases, those storms can become severe with hail, gusty winds and even tornadoes.
According to research published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, June and August are the months with the greatest number of tornado reports, but chances of encountering a significant twister are about 15 times lower than in Tornado Alley in the U.S. The country reports, on average, between a dozen and two dozen tornadoes every year, with the continent’s latest F-5 tornado occurring in the northern part of the country on June 24, 1967. An F-5 tornado is similar to a twister given the ranking of an EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale used in the U.S.
In addition to the tornado threat, hail is even more common in the country, with nearly 2,500 reports in 2022. According to the European Severe Storms Laboratory, the longest-lasting hailstorm occurred in May over a path of more than 180 miles. Damage from hailstones in 2022 was estimated to have reached in excess of $5 billion.
Athletes will have limited access to air conditioning
If Europe finds itself in a historic heat wave during the 2024 summer games, organizers will be paying attention to facilities purposely built without air conditioning.
According to members of the International Olympic Committee, the lack of AC is part of the host country’s plan to cut the carbon footprint and make the games the most sustainable in modern history.
Nicolas Ferrand, head of SOLIDEO, the organization responsible for the infrastructure, said earlier this year that the buildings will function with guaranteed comfort due to technology that’ll help keep the structure cooler than the outdoor temperature.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, toured some of the housing complexes used for athletes for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games and was asked by journalists about concerns over the lack of air conditioning.
"The organizing committee has taken a great effort and many measures ... which is adapting to the climate so that they can produce minus 6 degrees compared to the outside temperature minimum, maybe or even more," Bach said. "This should be really in order to make the athletes feel well and comfortable."
According to organizers, existing or temporary venues will make up 95% of the facilities for the games and significantly reduce the carbon footprint.
"The 2024 Games in Paris will be unlike any other Games in history as they will be both spectacular and sustainable," the organizing committee says on its website. "We encourage energy conservation, innovation and creativity to develop new ways of working and bring about a new era in the organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Our goal is to halve the emissions arising in relation to the Games, while offsetting even more CO2 emissions than we will generate."