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WEATHER

Snow ends drought for Swiss ski resorts

Snow has finally arrived in the Swiss Alps after a month of warmer than usual weather, although the white stuff came too late for many Christmas season holidaymakers packing their bags on Sunday.

Snow ends drought for Swiss ski resorts
A change from this: hikers walk on what is normally a nordic ski trail last week near the Col de la Givrine in the Jura Mountains, canton of Vaud. Photo: The Local

Skiers and snow boarders were hardest hit in Western Switzerland where mountain resort operators were forced to offer alternative activities for visitors unable to access bare slopes, with hiking one of the most popular options.

MeteoSwiss, the national weather office, said up to 30 centimetres of snow fell on the weekend and more is forecast this week.

From ten to 20 centimetres was recorded in the lower part of the canton of Valais, the Chablais region and the Jura, the office said.

The Dôle in the Vaud Jura, which was without snow last week, received a dump of 30 centimetres.

In German-speaking Switzerland, mountain areas received from ten to 20 centimetres.

With the arrival of fresh snow, the avalanche risk has risen in several regions of the cantons of Vaud and Valais, including the Val Ferret (Valais) and Les Diablerets (Vaud Alps), where the danger level has reached four on a scale up to five.

Further accumulations of 75 centimetres to one metre are expected in the Swiss Alps this week, although lower elevations will be spared, according to the MeteoSwiss forecast.

The snow disrupted road traffic on routes through the mountains on Monday, when a ban was imposed on trucks travelling through a section of the A13 motorway from Thusis in the canton of Graubünden and Roveredo in the canton of Ticino.

Exceptionally, Ticino in southern Switzerland has remained without snow, with rainfall of one to five millimetres over the weekend ending a 64-day period of drought.

The precipitation was insufficient to reduce the forest fire risk, which remains high in the Italian-speaking canton, MeteoSwiss said.

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WEATHER

‘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

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