Storm expected to bring snow to Swiss plateau

Following several days of rain in lower altitude areas of Switzerland, a storm is expected to bring more precipitation, high winds and cooler temperatures to the country on Tuesday.

Storm expected to bring snow to Swiss plateau
Flooding in the village of Wolhusen, near Lucerne. Photo: Lucerne cantonal police

Snow is forecast at altitudes above 600 metres, Meteonews said in a news release on Monday.

Winds are expected to grow in strength with gusts from 70 to 90 kilometres an hour in the plateau area (the region between the Jura and the Alps) on Wednesday, the weather service said.

Gusts of between 120 and 140 km/h are predicted for Alpine peaks.

Weather experts anticipate snow to hit the plateau for the first time this season on Wednesday followed by a period of calm until a fresh weather disturbance arrives on Friday night.

Heavy precipitation over the past few days has triggered landslides and flooding in various parts of Switzerland, while boosting the avalanche risks in mountain regions.

The avalanche danger is particularly high in the canton of Valais, where a metre of fresh snow is expected in the Alps this week.

After an absence of snow in December, ski resorts have struggled to get operations up and running with rain hampering conditions in several resorts at the weekend.

The men's alpine skiing World Cup giant slalom event at Swiss venue Adelboden was cancelled on Saturday after rain badly degraded the slopes, organizers announced. 

Rain also played havoc at the weekend in Cuarny, a village in the canton of Vaud near Yverdons-les-Bains.

A water-saturated garden above a water reserve for fire fighting collapsed into it on Sunday, creating a “tsunami”-like wall of water that poured into the underground garage of a neighbouring property, the ATS news agency reported.

Residents were briefly evacuated but no-one was injured by the incident.

Elsewhere in the canton of Vaud, a landslide on Monday morning blocked the road between the villages of Burtigny and Gilly after a stream overflowed its banks.

In the canton of Lucerne, the main road of the village of Wolhusen was flooded early on Monday after 5,000 cubic metres of rock fell from a cliff into the Kleine Emme river, diverting the course of the water.

Around 20 people were evacuated but no-one was hurt, although damage was substantial, Lucerne cantonal police said.

The road linking Wolhusen to Entlebuch, west of the city of Lucerne, was closed because of the high water.

Eighty fire fighters called to the scene erected a 25-metre long dike to redirect water back into the river, police said.

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Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

Not so long ago we complained about the cold and rainy weather in Switzerland, wishing for sunnier and warmer days. Our wish has come true — but why exactly is it so hot and what can we expect for the coming weeks?

Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

The temps have reached high 20s across much of Switzerland in the past days, but the best (or the worst, depending on who you ask) is yet to come: meteorologists forecast the high of 32 degrees for Friday.

“The current heat wave is relatively extreme for a month of May”, meteorologist Joshua Gehring from official weather service MeteoSwiss said in an interview with Watson news platform.

Why is it so unseasonably hot right now?

One reason should come as no surprise to anyone: “What we are currently experiencing, that is to say a relatively early heat wave, is a direct consequence of climate change”, Gehring noted.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

Specifically, a phenomenon called “heat dome” is hovering over Europe. It is, according to Gehring, “a stagnant anticyclone that acts as a lid to accumulate and retain heat”.

This is pretty much what happens when you put a lid over a boiling pot — the heat therein is captured and can’t escape.

What can we expect for next week?

The forecast calls for the heat wave to end from the beginning of next week, with more seasonal, 20-degree-plus temperatures expected throughout the country.

This is what the forecast looks like for Tuesday:

MeteoSwiss screenshot

What can you do in the meantime to cool down?

Indoor air-conditioning is rare in Switzerland, but keeping cool is easier outdoors.

For instance, the abundance of lakes and rivers in Switzerland provides a welcome relief on hot days.

And if you like swimming pools, the good news is (at least during a heat wave) that some are turning off heating to boycott Russian gas, so you could have a nice, cool swim.

READ MORE: Swiss pools go cold in boycott of Russian gas

Also, most public fountains in Switzerland spout cold water you can drink and splash yourself with.

If all else falls, head for the glaciers (while they last).