Alongside public

Serving the armed forces

Météo-France ensures the needs of the Ministry of the Armed Forces and training of non-commissioned officers in the meteorological branch are met in accordance with the provisions of its founding decree (decree no. 93-861 amended 18th June 1993), supplemented by the interministerial decree of 8th September 1998, as concerns the armed forces.

Meteorological support provided to the forces is instrumental insofar as:

  • it contributes to the safety and the success of military operations;
  • it conditions the performance of weapons systems;
  • it facilitates ability-driven optimisation;
  • it is involved in the ability to judge situations both independently and as part of the State, as well as in the operational effectiveness of the armed forces.

Two framework agreements describe the multifaceted support that Météo-France provides to its two main partners in the Ministry; the General Staff Headquarters of the French Army, and the French Directorate General of Armements.

These partnerships are illustrated by the three examples to have taken place in 2017.

Météo-France’s expertise to the French Directorate General of Armements (DGA - Direction générale de l’armement)


The DGA has a critical mandate to lead weapons programmes for the armed forces. However, today and even more so in the future, weapons systems need to take into account numerous meteorological parameters in order to optimise their performance. In order to better manage the use of these parameters in the programmes it conducts, the DGA relies on the expertise of Météo-France. As such, in 2017, the institution was awarded a study and engineering contract in the field of climatology and forecasting as well as specific services to the Géode4D programme, a future tool for military meteorologists which will follow on from SYNPA software within the armed forces.

DGA requires Météo-France’s detailed knowledge on the flow of data and services in order to feed its future tool which will be built by Meteo France International, within an industry grouping led by ADS (Airbus Defence and Space). The agency’s Meteorological Services Branch is responsible for project managing this very important contract and is supported by the engineering offices of the Interregional Directorates.

Arrivée de l'A400M sur la Base aérienne projetée en Jordanie.
Arrival of the A400M on the French Army’s Temporary Air Base in Jordan. © M. Buis/Armée de l'air/État-major des armées


Support provided by Météo-France to the École de l’aviation légère de l’armée de terre (EALAT - French Army Light Aviation School)

State serving helicopter pilots (serving in the army, gendarmerie, civil security) are trained at the French Army Light Aviation School (EALAT) in Dax, France. The curriculum followed by students must conform to international regulations, particularly modules in aeronautical meteorology. The EALAT draws on the support of Météo-France in this framework; under the educational supervision of the École nationale de la météorologie (ENM - French National School for Meteorology), experts in aeronautical meteorology within the South-West Interregional Directorate based in Dax, teach almost 300 hours of lessons per year.

Development of the SYNPA tool used by military meteorologists: the PostSyn-armées project

The SYNPA tool, software belonging to Météo-France used by military meteorologists in mainland France, must have additional functions such as facilitating stand-alone use on laptops, for example, in order for it to be used in external operations or on French Navy ships. In order to do this, Météo-France has taken on the PostSyn-armées project which aims to deliver a SYNPA2 tool to the armed forces by 2018. As such, the latter will become a unique tool for military meteorologists, supplied with data and services provided by Météo-France and suitable for use anywhere. Use of SYNPA2 is intended to continue until the arrival of the future Géode4D system.

Prevention and management of meteorological hazards

Working towards infra-département vigilance

In order to strengthen the relevance of the weather monitoring device and to better respond to the expectations of authorities and citizens, Météo-France began to carry out initial studies looking to define the boundaries of meteorological vigilance at infra-département level in 2017. The vigilance map, monitoring reports and associated behavioural advice will evolve long-term, alongside the tools that enable them to be produced and distributed.

This large-scale work, planned over several years, began in 2017 with a survey on public and media perception of the device. The survey highlighted several areas for improvement in terms of the map’s presentation and accompanying documents, particularly concerning rain/flooding aspects. While working to refine requirements in close collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Météo-France began initial work on the development of tools and production methods in 2017.

Supporting crisis management

In addition to extranet tools, videoconferencing and specific services in the form of bulletins for authorities handling crisis management, primarily the Ministry of the Interior, Météo-France launched initial tests aiming to feed crisis monitoring tools with basic weather information in real-time, in 2017. By enriching these tools, civil security services will be able to improve management of safety devices in crisis periods in the longer term.

Management of natural hazards: emergency intervention concerning hurricanes Irma and Maria

Preventing meteorological hazards is primarily carried out via initiatives designed to inform the public. For example, this is demonstrated by the campaign on the episodes of rainfall in the Cevennes, France in autumn 2017, carried out in partnership with the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition.

However, Météo-France also provides support to the interdepartmental commission responsible for commenting on the state of natural hazards. The agency also produces reports enabling cases to be examined. As such, hurricanes Irma and Maria, taking place in September 2017 and affecting the West Indies, involved teams at Météo-France beyond prediction and monitoring of the phenomenon.

As a meteorological expert within the natural hazards interministerial commission, Météo-France was required to produce reports on cyclonic winds and flooding for affected départements within a very short timeframe, within the framework of emergency procedures implemented in 2014 by the public authorities. This expertise facilitates the rapid recognition of damages by insurers.

These episodes are not isolated: throughout 2017, weather centres were required to conduct studies for the natural hazards commission for over 650 additional municipalities both in mainland France and overseas territories.

Lastly, in 2017, the agency drafted a national report on the drought that hit a large part of mainland France. The commission will study the report in 2018.


Assessing the service provided to municipalities in terms of alerting on intense rain alerts

Exemple de cartographie APIC.
Example of APIC mapping. © Météo-France


Since 2011, the intense rainfall warning system at local authority level (APIC) assists mayors, prefectures and flood forecasting services during periods of intense rainfall. This free service characterises rain observed by Météo-France’s radar network in order to issue automatic warning messages adapted to municipal level. As of March 2017, the APIC portal also hosts the Vigicruesflash service, operated by the Vigicrues network, which aims to warn municipalities of rapid flood risk on rivers that are not monitored by flood vigilance systems.

In order to learn more about the use of APIC at municipal level and to supplement feedback collected from agency partners, Météo-France launched a customer satisfaction survey amongst its followers (19.2% of municipalities in mainland France) in the winter of 2016-2017.

The approach, carried out in consultation with French civil security and the SCHAPI (French Government hydro-meteorological central office for flood forecasting), was very well received. With 1,082 responses to the online survey, supplemented by interviews in 11 municipalities of varying sizes and with diverse issues, it revealed a high degree of satisfaction regarding APICs: out of 672 municipalities to have received a warning message in 2017, more than 85% indicate that the information provided was satisfactory.

Several areas for improvement have been identified: strengthening communication for better use and understanding of the service within a crisis context, where various levels of information overlap each other, continuing improvements to warning reports, instructing and responding to new requirements, particularly within intermunicipalities.

Discover the other chapters of the current part

1.4 Météo-France, leader of climate and meteorological services