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France's washout summer fails to deter tourists

File image of a better summer day.
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Aug 24, 2007
It's official: France's rainy, grey and generally cold summer has been the worst for the past 30 years, the weather service said Friday, but tourist arrivals were the highest in five years.

July and August were wet across two-thirds of the country while the Mediterranean region was too dry, said Frederic Nathan, meteorologist at Meteo France.

"Yes we can say that it was a rotten summer," said Nathan. But the summers of 1954 and 1977 were worse, he added.

But the bleak weather did not cast a damper on tourist arrivals, "which are the best in five years," according to the tourism office for the Ile de France region, where Paris is located.

It said the season was "very satisfactory" with occupancies in Paris shooting up in July and August to their best level in five years.

Officials said bookings were also up for September for the rugby World Cup.

Britons comprised 17.1 percent of overseas visitors during summer, followed by Germans at 12.2 percent and Spaniards at 11.2 percent, it said.

Rainfall in northwestern France reached record levels, with cities like Le Havre registering 21 days of rain in July, beating the previous record of 16 in 1980.

In the northern city of Caen in Normandy, the weather service registered 592 hours of sunshine from May 1st to August 21, well below the average of 809 hours.

Temperatures on the Atlantic coast have been on average two or three degrees Celsius below seasonal averages, said Jean-Marc Le Gallic from Meteo France.

French chat shows have featured experts who are predicting a spike in the number of cases of depression due to a lack of sun exposure.

The gloom and drizzle have been a boon for tanning salons which are reporting brisk business.

"The bad weather has left people feeling low. They want to be beautiful and tanned and are turning to us," said Dominique Baumier, director of the Point Soleil chain of tanning salons.

With about 100 salons across France, Point Soleil said business was up 25 percent in July and 27 percent in August, compared to last year.

The other big winners of France's worst summer in decades are ... umbrella manufacturers.

Piganiol, Europe's biggest maker of umbrellas, said business was up a whopping 66 percent over the past summer.

"The rainshowers of the past four months have been a great source of happiness for us," said chief executive Jean Piganiol.

Umbrella sales were good in May and June, and they "exploded in July and August," he said.

However, campsites in northern France said they were running at 75 percent capacity while travel agencies reported a hike in last-minute sales of tickets to sunny destinations.

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Scientists Verify Predictive Model For Winter Weather
Lexington MA (SPX) Aug 21, 2007
Scientists have verified the accuracy of a model that uses October snow cover in Siberia to predict upcoming winter temperatures and snowfall for the high- and mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. The model is called sCast, short for seasonal forecast model. Atmospheric scientist Judah Cohen of AER, Inc., in Lexington, Mass., and colleagues analyzed seven real-time winter forecasts and 33 winter hindcasts (simulations of winters going back to 1972) to verify sCast.

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