Heat wave expected to roll across Switzerland

After a tentative start to spring, marred by heavy rain and flooding in parts of the country, Switzerland is preparing for a heat wave this week.

Heat wave expected to roll across Switzerland
Photo: Lykaestria

Temperatures are forecast to rise in the canton of Valais from highs of 26 degrees on Monday to above 30C in the canton of Valais on Thursday, where the mercury is expected to jump to 33C on Friday, MeteoSwiss, the national weather office said.

Elsewhere in the country, by the end of the week it should reach 31C from one end of the country to the other in Geneva, Basel and Chur (in the canton of Graubünden), the office said on Monday.

Zurich is expected to see a high of 30C, while Bern can expect a maximum reading of 29C on Friday, MeteoSwiss said.


The warm weather is expected to persist through the weekend although thunderstorms are possible in some regions.

The return to summery conditions follows an erratic spring with temperatures higher than average in May (by 0.7 degrees), April (up 1.4 degrees) and March (1.2 degrees), MeteoSwiss said.

However, there was less sunshine and more rain, the office said.

Sion, the capital of Valais, recorded the highest rainfall in 150 years.

The canton also experienced extremes in the middle of the month, recording a high of 30 degrees on May 13th, followed a day later by a high of 15 degrees while snow fell at an altitude as low as 550 metres. 

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Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland's best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland’s best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

At the same time, discharge levels on the Rhine, one of Europe’s major rivers which starts in the Swiss Alps, have never been so low in August since records began.

“There is a low water situation in Switzerland, especially on the central plateau and in the southern part of Ticino,” the country’s southernmost canton, said Michele Oberhansli, from the Federal Office for the Environment’s hydrology division.

READ ALSO: Water flown in by helicopter: How Switzerland has been hit by drought

“The reason for the existing situation is a precipitation deficit in the whole year of 2022, which affects the whole of Switzerland, as well as many other European countries,” she told AFP.

Soil moisture is down across the country and drought is affecting forests and agriculture, she said.

Lakes Constance, Lucerne, Lugano and Walen “are currently recording water levels that have never been so low in an August month since measurements began”, said Oberhansli.

Meanwhile Lakes Zug and Maggiore “continue to show values well below average”.

The shores of Lake Maggiore mark the lowest point in Switzerland, normally at 193 metres above sea level.

READ ALSO: MAP: The Swiss regions in danger of wildfires and the measures in place to avoid them

Except the lakes in the Jura region in the northwest and Lake Thun, the levels of all the other larger Swiss lakes are also below the long-term average.

Rivers down, glaciers melting

Meanwhile many Swiss rivers are recording readings that only occur once every two to 20 years.

“Discharge values on the Reuss and Rhine have never been so low since measurements began in August,” said Oberhansli.

The hydrologist said rain over the coming days should “slightly alleviate” the low water and drought levels, but would “not yet be sufficient to ease the overall situation”.

Following a dry winter, the summer heatwaves hitting Europe have been catastrophic for Switzerland’s Alpine glaciers, which have been melting at an accelerated rate.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

A layer of ice — 15 metres thick in 2012 — has covered the Tsanfleuron Pass between two glaciers since at least the Roman era.

But most of it has gone and the ice on the pass will have melted away completely by the end of September, a ski resort said last week.