France has Warmest Autumn, Winter for Centuries
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FRANCE: March 2, 2007

PARIS - France recorded its warmest autumn and winter for several centuries, the meteorological office said on Thursday as the government warned it was worried about water supplies. Meteo France said average temperatures from December to February were 2.1 degrees Celsius (35.78 Fahrenheit) above average -- the highest since it began collating "full and reliable" data from 22 French cities in 1950.

"This remarkably mild winter follows an exceptionally hot 2006 autumn, which has not been seen before in the 1950-2006 period and without doubt even for several centuries," Meteo France said in a statement.

It added that northeast France was especially mild, with temperatures almost 3 C above normal in the three winter months. It said the outlook was for a hotter-than-normal spring.

A government committee held a monthly meeting on the water situation in France on Thursday and urged users, especially farmers, to be careful, saying rainfall between September and February was slightly lower-than-average.

"The water situation is worrying and one must remain attentive," Environment Minister Nelly Olin said, adding that water restrictions looked almost certain in some areas.

(Additional reporting by Paule Bonjean)