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WEATHER

Heavy snow to hit Alps this weekend

Swiss residents are bracing for a blast of winter this weekend, coming just a week after a spell of warm Indian summer conditions.

Heavy snow to hit Alps this weekend
Photo: Ragnar Jensen (File)

MeteoSwiss, the national weather office, says a cold front bringing air from the north will establish itself in Switzerland early on Saturday.

Periods of snow are expected at higher elevations later in the day, dropping to altitudes of 700 metres in western parts of the country, the weather office said.

The temperature will drop progressively below zero over the weekend.  

Thermometer readings are not expected to rise above three or four degrees in much of the country on Sunday, except in Ticino were highs of nine are forecast at lower levels on Sunday.

Heavy snowfall is in the cards for many parts of the Alps on Saturday night, according to the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.
 
The institute predicts between 20 and 40 centimetres of the white stuff will accumulate at the 2,500-metre level of the northern Alps and in Graubünden between Friday evening and Saturday evening.

Up to 20 centimetres is anticipated at the same altitude in the cantons of Valais and Ticino.

At lower levels, 10 to 20 centimetres of snow is expected on Saturday night, tapering off on Sunday.

The institute said the avalanche danger will rise over the weekend as a result of the fresh snowfall, particularly on north-facing slopes.

The outlook for Monday and Tuesday calls for clear and cold weather in most of Switzerland with a Bise wind blowing from the north-east in the Lake Geneva area.

Temperatures are forecast to rise gradually later in the week.

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WILDFIRES

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

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

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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