Switzerland to become more Italian — over time

For Swiss residents who have suffered through a colder than usual winter and a cool spring, the news may not come soon enough, but experts say Switzerland is warming up.

Switzerland to become more Italian — over time
Sun bathers in Zurich (file). Photo: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble

A study by MeteoSwiss says the country in 50 years will benefit from 65 to 80 days of summery weather in the “plateau”, the region north of the Alps, instead of the current 50 days.

The national weather office’s report says global warming will transform the region’s climate into a Mediterranean one.

Valleys in the Jura will gain an extra month of summer by 2060 and many Swiss cities will develop Italian-type temperatures, the report says.

“In many areas of the plateau the temperature levels should correspond to those currently found south of the Alps (in the canton of Ticino),” MeteoSwiss says.

In less than 50 years time, Geneva will be as hot as it now is in Milan, according to the predictions.

Basel and Neuchâtel, meanwhile, will have temperatures as high as those in Lugano and Locarno, typically the warmest spots in the country, the report says.

In Ticino, near lakes such as Maggiore, the climate will become similar to that currently enjoyed in Florence and Rome.

The weather office expects heat waves to become more frequent, with periods of extreme dryness during the summer, although this is unlikely at other times of the year.

For skiers, the warming trend means less snow in the mountains in the winter.

The average number of days of snowfall in Alpine areas is forecast to drop to 80 days a year from 110 days in many mountain areas.

The weather experts also expect less of the white stuff in the plateau, with just 10 days a year of snowfall compared to an average of 30 today.

Could all this be wildly inaccurate?

MeteoSwiss says its prediction is based on sophisticated climate modelling based on complex calculations made by powerful computers.

However, the models represent a simplified version of the actual climate, so long-term forecasts are uncertain, the weather office acknowledges. 

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‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

As temperatures climb again, many people may struggle to get a good night's sleep in Switzerland. Here are some expert tips to help you even when it's sweltering hot.

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

Switzerland’s summers tend to get hotter and this season has seen its share of heatwaves, bringing temperatures closer to 40C and making it almost impossible to sleep.

This could mean trouble for residents of a country better prepared to bear the cold weather than the extreme heat.

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has three ‘golden rules’ for how to make it through heatwaves; avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day, keep the heat out of your house however you can, drink and eat smart (fresh foods and lots of water).

With night temperatures in some regions above 20C, Swiss residents will also need some help getting through the night.

Here are a few tips to keep cool overnight and enjoy better sleep despite the heat of the night.

Don’t sleep naked

It’s tempting to ditch the PJs when it’s this warm overnight. But sleep experts say this is a mistake, as any moisture from sweat accumulates on your body.

Cotton pyjamas and cotton sheets are very effective in absorbing and removing sweat from your body.

Give a little help to your internal clock

Many people think that it is only the extreme heat in summer making your sleep seem a bit worse than in the colder months. But the fact that days are brighter for longer makes a huge difference.

READ ALSO: How Switzerland’s largest cities are combating the heat

As light suppresses our body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that signals that it is time to sleep, the longer days irritate our internal clock, according to sleep experts.

The old tip of turning off your devices to avoid the blue light is also extra crucial. So around one hour before going to bed, you can start your “darkening” ritual throughout your home.

In that sense, it’s also better to avoid naps during the day to keep a better sleep routine.

Try to cool your room and yourself

Of course, the cooler temperatures are in your bedroom when you go to sleep, the better. You can help get temperatures a few degrees down by following these tips: keep the blinds and windows shut during the worst of the day and ventilate the cooler night breeze during the night.

Sleeping during a heatwave can be difficult. Photo: Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash

You can also moisten your curtains just before bedtime and leave the window open; the water evaporation will make it a bit cooler. If you can, another tip is to put your mattress on the floor as hot air rises – excellent advice for those sleeping on a bunk bed.

Don’t forget to turn off (and unplug!) electrical appliances, as those are heat sources.

READ ALSO: Eight great swimming spots to escape the Swiss summer heat

To cool yourself, you could take a lukewarm evening shower (not a hot one, those will make your body react by generating heat).

Fans and humidity help

As long as you’ve kept your room relatively cool, fans work. They help evaporate sweat which, in turn, helps your body regulate its temperature.

Putting a bowl of ice in front of the fan can also help cool the room.

Some people swear by dampening their sheets before going to bed. But if you’re not used to it, the feeling can be a little disconcerting. You can also place multiple ice containers in the corners of your room, which will melt slowly overnight and cool the air.

Why is it essential to have a good night’s sleep?

Several days of scorching temperatures can cause heat stress, according to the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

If the nights are not cool enough, the body can’t recover from the heat of the day, creating a dangerous condition called “thermal stress”, which can be fatal for the elderly and other vulnerable people.

While there are no statistics showing how many people have fallen victim to heat stress during the most recent heatwave, several cantons have implemented a system of home visits and frequent phone contact with this at-risk group.

READ MORE: How to keep your cool during Switzerland’s heatwave