An above-average wet season pushed France’s Seine River beyond its banks this week, paralyzing some areas of Paris, including the Louvre, which closed off its basement gallery.
Meteo France, the national weather service, said December and January, together, are the third wettest on record since 1900. Paris has had more than double its normal rainfall since Dec. 1 — 7.2 inches.
As of 5 a.m. Thursday, the Seine was at 18 feet. Forecasters expect it to reach 20 feet by Saturday, 16 feet above normal. The river reached a record height in 1910 at 28 feet.
Officials stopped boat traffic on the river because boats were unable to pass under bridges. Roads and walking paths along the Seine, and seven metro stations also were closed.
It’s not just Paris bearing the brunt of the flooding. Residents in the southern suburb of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges were using boats to navigate flooded streets as parked cars were nearly submerged.
“It’s likely that the Seine will stay high for several days next week,” said Marc Mortureaux, risk prevention director at France’s environment ministry.
The famed Louvre museum announced it closed its basement gallery, the Department of Islamic Arts, until Jan. 28 because of high water.
Other museums, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Orangerie, said they were making preparations in the event of more significant flooding.
In 2016, the Louvre completely closed as flash floods throughout the region bore down on the region, killing several people.
And in July 2017, multiple paintings in the museum sustained damage in a downpour that infiltrated the building.
Water marks drips were found on two panels of Nicolas Poussin’s Four Seasons as well as The Triumph of Mordecai by Jean-Francois de Troy — all of which were removed for repairs, the Louvre said. Museum officials removed paintings by Georges de la Tour and Eustache Le Sueur where they found water marks on the walls.
By Danielle Haynes