Heavy rain sparks fresh bout of flooding

A fresh bout of heavy rain has brought renewed flooding to parts of Switzerland, particularly eastern parts of the country and the Bern-Fribourg region, cutting transport routes, triggering mudslides and damaging buildings.

Heavy rain sparks fresh bout of flooding
Traffic ground to a halt on the A1 motorway in the canton of Saint Gallen. Photo: SRF

The deluge began on Sunday and continued on Monday, putting roads and buildings under water, while cutting power in some locations.

A section of the A1 motorway was partially submerged in Will in the canton of Saint Gallen, where 150 emergency services staff responded to calls for help, the ATS news agency reported.

Close to 250 tonnes of gravel had to be removed from the road, a major artery that links the northeast part of the country to Geneva in the west, the agency said.

The gravel on the motorway reached a depth of up to 60 centimetres in places, according to the report.

Similar issues disrupted rail traffic in Saint Gallen and elsewhere in the canton of Thurgau, where police received 500 reports of damage and dozens of fire fighters worked around the clock in response.

In the Kradolf-Scönenberg region of Thurgau several streams spilled over their banks and flooded local roads.

Heavy rain also hit the cantons of Solothurn, Aargau and Basel-Country.

Rail traffic was disrupted on the line between Bern and Neuchâtel after flooding knocked out a section between Chiètres in the canton of Fribourg and Anet in the canton of Bern.

Shuttle buses were used to transport passengers until train service was restored on Monday at around 6pm, ATS said.

The H10 motorway was briefly closed in both directions between Champion and Anet due to high water in an underpass.

Elsewhere in the canton of Bern, basements, warehouses and underpasses were flooded in regions such as Schwarzenburgerland, ATS said.

Drinking water was polluted by bacteria in Zweisimmen, a municipality in the Obersimmental-Saanen district.

In the canton of Vaud, an 18-year-old man had to be transported to safety by a helicopter on Sunday after being caught on a rock in the Veveyse River , near Vevey, when the river rose rapidly, cantonal police said.

MetwoSwiss, the national weather office, forecast rain to continue across the country until Tuesday evening.

Relief is expected only on Wednesday when sunny periods are predicted in all regions. 

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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