• Switzerland's news in English

Violent thunderstorm pummels Switzerland

Meritxell Mir · 16 Dec 2011, 10:22

Published: 16 Dec 2011 11:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Dec 2011 10:22 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Swiss authorities are asking citizens to watch out for falling trees, stay away from the woods, and secure loose belongings, especially Christmas lights, as thunderstorm "Joachim" moves in over the country.

Joachim is expected to reach its peak by midday, with gusts of 100 km/h forecast in low-lying areas and 150 km/h in the mountains, said MéteoSuisse.

The low pressure system has been making its way down from northern France and Germany, and “is expected to cause major damage," meteorologist Thomas Bucheli told Tages Anzeiger.

MéteoSwiss added, though, that Joachim won’t reach the same level as the storm Lothar, which swept across France, Switzerland and Germany in December 1999.

In Switzerland alone, the storm caused 14 deaths, destroyed 10 million trees and caused property damage of around 600 million francs ($639 million). The total death toll for the hurricane in central Europe reached 137 people.

Doris Walther, head of the crisis information service in canton Basel-country, has asked citizens to use common sense. 

Hikers should not go into the woods, drivers should pay attention to fallen trees or branches, and loose objects must be secured.

“One should also pay attention to whether Christmas lights have been put up properly,” she told Tages Anzeiger.

As a preventative measure, the company operating boat services on Lake Geneva between the Swiss and French shores has cancelled all services.

The interruption will affect about 1,600 commuters, and there will be no replacement bus service since no operators are capable of carrying so many passengers in one day, a spokesman for the company told Tages Anzeiger. Normal service is expected to resume on Saturday morning.

Story continues below…

Gusts of 130km/h were already recorded in the early hours of Friday in Chasseral, in the Bernese Jura.

In the same area, several roads have been closed off due to fallen trees, while a train was derailed after hitting a tree that had fallen on the tracks. Twelve passengers sustained minor injuries, but no one was hospitalized.

Authorities are also warning of a heightened avalanche risk throughout the weekend. Gusting winds and heavy snowfall will make the situation "delicate," weather forecaster Christine Pielmeier told La Tribune de Genève. Snow levels could reach between 70 and 80 centimetres above 2,000 metres.

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available