Cold front ends tropical weekend in Switzerland

Temperatures are set to plummet this week, putting an end to the weekend heatwave.

Cold front ends tropical weekend in Switzerland
File photo: Paul Asman/Jill Lenoble

During the tropical night of Friday to Saturday the mercury stayed above 20 degrees in many areas of the country.

The sticky night ushered in a dry, hot weekend with temperatures soaring to 34 degrees in Sion and Geneva, and 33 in Zurich, said MeteoSuisse.

The warm weather helped to bring record numbers out for Switzerland’s biggest hip hop festival in Frauenfeld, with 170,000 attending over the three days, up from 133,000 last year, reported news agencies.  

Others spent some of it shut in their cars as the start of the Swiss summer holiday season meant a seven kilometre tailback at the Gotthard road tunnel.

The heatwave was short-lived, however, with storms and rain forecast for Monday and Tuesday. As a taster of things to come, storms hit the region of Engelberg in central Switzerland on Sunday evening.


This week temperatures are set to fall by 10-12 degrees across the country, said MeteoSuisse, with around 30-50mm of rain expected between Monday afternoon and Tuesday evening.

However warmer weather should return towards the end of the week.

Source: MeteoSuisse

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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.