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.