White Christmas arrives late for northern Alps

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White Christmas arrives late for northern Alps

It may not have been a typical white Christmas for many residents in the Swiss Alps this year but the snow returned in full force on Boxing Day, carpeting the area from the highest mountains to the lowest valleys.


Snow returned in earnest on Thursday, covering the northern Alps with 20 to 40 centimetres, RTS reported.

Up until Boxing Day, only the Southern Alps had enjoyed a coating of the white stuff, leaving the northern Alps strangely bare for this time of year.

Over a metre of snow was recorded in the southern Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, which saw several weather records broken, according to MétéoSuisse.

According to the weather authority, between 80 cm and 120 cm of snow fell in Upper Ticino.

In particular, the San Bernardino ski resort saw the highest level of snow in the resort’s 61-year history, with 120 cm recorded by the Institute for the study of snow and avalanches in Davos. The risk of avalanche is high.

Meanwhile, at lower altitudes in Ticino, rain continued to fall between Christmas Eve and Thursday afternoon, sparking flood concerns. On Thursday at noon, Lake Lugano was given a high hazard rating.

In Locarno-Monti, 129.6 litres per metre squared of rain was recorded between Christmas morning and Boxing Day, beating the previous record set for December 60 years ago.

According to MétéoSuisse, this amount of rainfall is exceptional for the winter months and more characteristic of the summer.

This freak weather followed a violent storm on Christmas Eve when winds were recorded to be as high as 208 km/h, according to Météo News.

The warm southerly winds caused disruption to central Switzerland and the Jura-Nord Vaudois District of the western canton of Vaud, with power cuts reported in some towns, 20 Minutes reported.

Rail traffic was also disrupted, including on the Simplon railway between Domodossola and Brigue, the Rhaetian Railway in the Canton of Graubünden and the Glacier-Express. 


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