Geneva grapples with slippery snow conditions

Geneva has so far managed to escape the snow that has hit much of the rest of Switzerland — until now.

Geneva grapples with slippery snow conditions
Image of snow and ice from last winter in the Geneva community of Versoix (Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)

Heavy snow began falling in the country’s westernmost canton on Friday morning accompanied by see-sawing temperatures that threaten to turn roads into skating rinks just as commuters head home for the weekend later in the day.

From 10 to 20 centimetres are expected in Geneva by Saturday morning, according to the weather centre at Cointrin, the international airport.

But complicating matters, according to MeteoSwiss, the national weather office, is slightly milder afternoon temperatures that are expected to turn the snow into rain for several hours.

The website of the Tribune de Genève reported that the Geneva airport is prepared for a heavy snowfall with a fleet of snow ploughs at the ready.

No flights will be cancelled, assured airport spokesman Bertrand Stämpfli.

However, many shops in the region closed for the afternoon in anticipation of bad road conditions.

In the canton of Vaud, police reported a spate of accidents on Friday morning, including one that blocked one lane on the A9 Highway between Vevey and Chexbres.

MeteoSwiss forecast snow accompanied by strong winds from the west for most of the country.

The weekend is expected to be drier and colder with maximum temperatures at or below zero in low-lying areas.

A fresh bout of snow is expected early next week.

Avalanche conditions are high in the Jura Mountains and the Alps, where the risk is judged very high along a band extending from the canton of Valais in the southwest through the Andermatt area, according to authorities.

“The current avalanche situation calls for caution and restraint,” said the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.

“Avalanches can in many places be released by a single winter sport participant or triggered naturally,” the institute said.

Among the riskiest places are north-facing slopes above 2,200 metres, it said.

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‘No white Christmas’ for Switzerland as country bathes in warmest December on record

Anyone in Switzerland's major cities holding out hope of a white Christmas is set to be disappointed. With temperatures across the country six degrees above average, it is officially the warmest December on record.

‘No white Christmas’ for Switzerland as country bathes in warmest December on record
Photo: Depositphotos

Featuring alongside green Christmas trees and delicate lights, pure white snow is synonymous with Christmas in Switzerland. 

Across much of the country however, dreams of a white Christmas have been dashed – with temperatures in some places set to be more than ten degrees above zero. 

See also: Your complete guide to Switzerland's best Christmas markets in 2019

The Swiss meteorological service Meteonews confirmed that temperatures are six degrees above regular December levels. 

READ: Climate change set to cost Switzerland 'CHF1 billion per year' 

On Tuesday the 17th, the highest ever December temperature in Switzerland was recorded – 20.5 degrees in Giswil, in the canton of Obwalden. 

While no snow at Christmas time isn’t unusual in some parts of Switzerland – only one in six Geneva Christmases are snowy – the temperature levels are clearly abnormal. 

The current predictions for Christmas Day in Geneva are 10C and raining, while Zurich will have rain and 8C. Bern, Basel and Lucerne are all forecast to have temperatures between 7-9 on Christmas Day. 

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