Wintry weekend warning for Swiss Alps

After a warmer than usual August and a heatwave that ended last week, Switzerland is suddenly bracing for a hint of winter.

Wintry weekend warning for Swiss Alps

MeteoSwiss, the national weather office, is warning of snow at higher elevations this weekend as a wave of cool, damp air from the north drops temperatures and dumps precipitation across the country.

That precipitation is expected to fall as snow in areas with elevations above 1,000 metres, the weather office says.

Between 60 centimetres and a metre of the white stuff is predicted in areas north of the Alps on Saturday, according to a bulletin from the Swiss institute for snow and avalanche studies.

The institute expects around 30 centimetres of snow in parts of Valais, Ticino and Graubünden.

It issued a warning advising people not to go hiking in the Swiss Alps this weekend because of the changing weather conditions.

The danger of avalanches is extreme at levels above 2,500 metres.

In the valleys, temperatures are expected to fall to as low as two degrees in Eastern Switzerland with highs of seven degrees.

MeteoSwiss predicts slightly warmer weather on Sunday.

The chilly change comes after Switzerland experienced an August that was considerably warmer than the average established between 1961 and 1990.

Temperatures were between 2.5 and three degrees higher than average on the plain north of the Alps and in Alpine valleys, the weather office said.

Readings were 3.5 degrees higher than usual on mountain summits and in the cantons of Ticino and Valais.

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Weather: Switzerland prepares for ‘record-breaking’ hot summer

The hot weather of the past week makes us wonder what the summer months will be like in Switzerland. Will we walk around in shorts and flip-flops or thermal underwear and boots? Find out what the experts say.

Weather: Switzerland prepares for 'record-breaking' hot summer

It has been hot in much of Switzerland over the last few days, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees in some parts of the country.  But this is just a ‘foretaste’ of what lies ahead.

While this week is expected to be a bit cooler — more seasonal lower 20s —forecasts for the summer months call for even more intense heat.

“It will be hotter than usual,” according to Thomas Buchel, head of SRF Meteo.

“New heat records are very likely. It would be surprising if it went in another direction”, he said.

While it is too early now to predict just how hot it will get, the temperatures in certain Swiss regions “could hit 40 degrees”, Buchel pointed out.

This is close to this century’s previous “hottest” summer on record — 41.5 degrees measured in Grono, Graubünden 2003.

Another meteorologist, Joshua Gehring from the official weather service MeteoSwiss, said hotter weather “is a direct consequence of climate change”.

Specifically, a phenomenon called “heat dome” is hovering over Europe. It is, according to Gehring, “a stagnant anticyclone that acts as a lid to accumulate and retain heat”.

READ MORE: Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

But the environment is not the only one that is “suffering”, as it were, from this phenomenon.

According to 20 Minutes, “nearly 400 million francs are lost each year in Switzerland due to the heatwave and the drop in productivity that it causes in companies. That’s twice as much as the seasonal flu”.

“What is ideal for swimming or barbecuing cripples the economy. When working outdoors, performance drops quickly at such high temperatures”.

The Federal Office of Meteorology (MeteoSwiss) confirmed the dangers of extremely high temperatures on humans and nature alike.

“Periods of hot weather place extreme stress on the human body and can endanger health. Among other things, they can trigger cardiovascular and respiratory conditions and impair mental and physical performance”, MeteoSwiss writes.

“A hot spell can also have adverse effects on nature and infrastructure. For example, bodies of water often heat up considerably, causing fish to die, while high temperatures can lead to buckling of road surfaces and deformation of railway tracks”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

So if you are a summer enthusiast and thrive in hot weather, you can look forward to sizzling temps.

But f you are more of a “cold” person, this article from April of this year may bring back fond memories:

Winter weather to continue in Switzerland this week