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First storm of the year keeps skiers away

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11:24 CET+01:00

A low pressure system bringing heavy snowfall and wind speeds of up to 180 km/h is expected to continue into Friday.

For the second time in less than a month, a violent storm is set to pummel Switzerland from Thursday on.

Following in the footsteps of Joachim in mid-December, Andrea is the next storm to keep skiers away from the slopes on Thursday and Friday.

The first storm of the year will bring gusts of 80 to 110 km/h north of Lake Geneva and the Jura Plateau. In the Jura mountains and the Alps, these winds may exceed 130 km/h, said meteorological agency Meteosuisse in a statement.

The strongest gusts are expected in higher mountain areas, where winds could reach a peak speed of 180 km/h.

Steady rain in the morning will turn to heavy snowfall at altitudes varying from 800 to 1,300 metres, depending on the region.

Up to 60 centimetres of snow is expected in the Alps, with the avalanche risk level rising to 4 on Thursday night, said the Institute for the Study of Snow and Avalanches.

As a result, several ski areas will be closed, including Paccots in canton Fribourg, and Rochers de Naye in canton Vaud.

In German-speaking Switzerland, resorts such as Zermatt in the Valais, Davos-Klosters in Graubünden, and Engelberg in Oberwald, have already closed some tracks, their websites said.

Ice is also expected to form on the country's roads at low altitudes from Thursday night to Friday morning.

The storm front is forecast to remain until Friday morning in western Switzerland and Saturday morning in the east. 

In mid-December, the storm dubbed Joachim brought severe destruction to Switzerland, as it pounded the country with gusts of 100 km/h in low-lying areas and up to 176 km/h in the mountains. Méteosuisse described it as one of the worst storms in the last ten years. 

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