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WEATHER

Swiss ski resorts still waiting for snow

If the strong Swiss franc fails to keep holidaymakers away from Switzerland's luxury resorts, then the current lack of snow certainly will.

Swiss ski resorts still waiting for snow
EmsiProduction

Operators are desperately waiting for the first fall of flakes to draw in ski tourists who are putting off making their reservations just yet.

“It’s difficult to give an opening date, we are waiting to see if the snow arrives and if it’s cold enough to use the artificial snow machines,” said a spokesman for the southwestern Crans Montana resort.

The ski station, which notched up a million overnight stays last year, is suffering from the current snow drought in Switzerland and the Alps in general.

“We haven’t had any snowfall yet, but it’s too early to be defeatist about it,” the spokesman said.

Davos in the southeast has the same dilemma. The resort has managed to open seven of its 50 runs thanks only to snow machines.

“There was a bit of snow in October, but it didn’t last,” said a spokesman.

Dry air conditions brought by a massive anticyclone are behind the lack of the white stuff, according to Swiss forecasters.

The last rainfall was seen on October 16th, with Davos recording just 0.6 mm of rain through Autumn.

Not a flake has fallen at Arosa, a family resort in the eastern Grisons area, which usually enjoys about 25 centimetres of snow on its slopes from mid-November.

“A change will definitely occur in the middle of the week,” said an expert at Switzerland’s meteorological body Meteo Suisse.

“But it’s still too early to say how much snow is going to fall.”

The lack of snow is adding to an already difficult time for the country’s tourist industry, battered by the high cost of the Swiss franc.

The currency has gained about three percent on the euro and around four percent on the British pound, making stays at Swiss resorts all the more pricey.  

Because 60 percent of Swiss hotel visitors are foreigners, half of them hailing from the eurozone, the Swiss government has taken measures to support the industry, with a 100 million-franc (€81.1 million) boost.

The Swiss tourist board has meanwhile spent four million francs promoting the country as a winter destination across the eurozone, Britain and Russia.

The resorts have also taken measures to attract foreign visitors, who are becoming all the more cautious as the debt crisis worsens.

Davos is offering a complimentary ski lift pass with each hotel reservation.

“Tourists want to be sure that the weather is going to be good and are reserving later and later,” said a spokesman at the resort, famous for the World Economic Forum taking place there every year.

At Crans Montana, the tourism office has also responded by offering big reductions on overnight stays.

“Reservations are beginning to pick up. But it’s snow that will prove the trigger” for the influx of skiers, a spokesman for the Valais resort said.

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WEATHER

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

As temperatures climb again, many people may struggle to get a good night's sleep in Switzerland. Here are some expert tips to help you even when it's sweltering hot.

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

Switzerland’s summers tend to get hotter and this season has seen its share of heatwaves, bringing temperatures closer to 40C and making it almost impossible to sleep.

This could mean trouble for residents of a country better prepared to bear the cold weather than the extreme heat.

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has three ‘golden rules’ for how to make it through heatwaves; avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day, keep the heat out of your house however you can, drink and eat smart (fresh foods and lots of water).

With night temperatures in some regions above 20C, Swiss residents will also need some help getting through the night.

Here are a few tips to keep cool overnight and enjoy better sleep despite the heat of the night.

Don’t sleep naked

It’s tempting to ditch the PJs when it’s this warm overnight. But sleep experts say this is a mistake, as any moisture from sweat accumulates on your body.

Cotton pyjamas and cotton sheets are very effective in absorbing and removing sweat from your body.

Give a little help to your internal clock

Many people think that it is only the extreme heat in summer making your sleep seem a bit worse than in the colder months. But the fact that days are brighter for longer makes a huge difference.

READ ALSO: How Switzerland’s largest cities are combating the heat

As light suppresses our body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that signals that it is time to sleep, the longer days irritate our internal clock, according to sleep experts.

The old tip of turning off your devices to avoid the blue light is also extra crucial. So around one hour before going to bed, you can start your “darkening” ritual throughout your home.

In that sense, it’s also better to avoid naps during the day to keep a better sleep routine.

Try to cool your room and yourself

Of course, the cooler temperatures are in your bedroom when you go to sleep, the better. You can help get temperatures a few degrees down by following these tips: keep the blinds and windows shut during the worst of the day and ventilate the cooler night breeze during the night.

Sleeping during a heatwave can be difficult. Photo: Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash

You can also moisten your curtains just before bedtime and leave the window open; the water evaporation will make it a bit cooler. If you can, another tip is to put your mattress on the floor as hot air rises – excellent advice for those sleeping on a bunk bed.

Don’t forget to turn off (and unplug!) electrical appliances, as those are heat sources.

READ ALSO: Eight great swimming spots to escape the Swiss summer heat

To cool yourself, you could take a lukewarm evening shower (not a hot one, those will make your body react by generating heat).

Fans and humidity help

As long as you’ve kept your room relatively cool, fans work. They help evaporate sweat which, in turn, helps your body regulate its temperature.

Putting a bowl of ice in front of the fan can also help cool the room.

Some people swear by dampening their sheets before going to bed. But if you’re not used to it, the feeling can be a little disconcerting. You can also place multiple ice containers in the corners of your room, which will melt slowly overnight and cool the air.

Why is it essential to have a good night’s sleep?

Several days of scorching temperatures can cause heat stress, according to the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

If the nights are not cool enough, the body can’t recover from the heat of the day, creating a dangerous condition called “thermal stress”, which can be fatal for the elderly and other vulnerable people.

While there are no statistics showing how many people have fallen victim to heat stress during the most recent heatwave, several cantons have implemented a system of home visits and frequent phone contact with this at-risk group.

READ MORE: How to keep your cool during Switzerland’s heatwave

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