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WEATHER

Switzerland freezes in coldest night of winter so far

Thursday night to Friday morning in Switzerland was the coldest night of winter to date, with temperatures dropping to nearly minus 30 degrees in some parts of the country, said MeteoNews on Friday.

Switzerland freezes in coldest night of winter so far
The village of La Brevine holds the record for Switzerland's lowest temperature. Photo: Caroline Bishop
The commune of La Brévine, a village in the Jura mountains near Neuchâtel, was the coldest in the country early on Friday morning, reaching a low of -29.9C. 
 
Thanks to its unusual microclimate La Brévine is regularly the coldest place in Switzerland and holds the record for the lowest ever temperature, of -41.8C, reached in January 1987.
 
Last night this so-called ‘Siberia of Switzerland’, which sits at just 1,050m, was even colder than the Jungfraujoch – Switzerland’s highest railway station – which, despite being at 3,580m, was five degrees warmer, at -24C. 
 
 

 
On the Swiss lowlands, under 800m altitude, the village of Welshenrohr in the canton of Solothurn was the coldest, at -18.4C. 
 
The cities also felt the chill, with Zurich airport recording -13.3C and Freiburg -12.1C. 
 
After a long dry spell in December, Switzerland saw its first snowfall of the year across German-speaking parts earlier this week, with flurries also reaching the Lake Geneva region on Thursday. 
 
However the country will be mostly dry, bright and cold on Friday, with temperatures below freezing in many parts. 
 
The low temperatures will persist over the weekend.
 
Switzerland’s top five coldest places on January 6th (according to MeteoNews): 
 
La Brévine (1,050m) -29.9C   
 
Corvatsch (3,315m) -26.9C
 
Jungfraujoch (3,580m) -24C
 
Buffalora/Ofenpass (1,970m) -24C
 
Titlis (3,040m) -23.8C
 
 
The big chill is expected to last through the weekend. Source: MeteoSuisse

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WEATHER

What’s next after Switzerland’s ‘extremely worrying’ heatwave?

Switzerland hit record high temperatures for June for the first time in 75 years on Sunday but what's the forecast for the coming days and weeks?

What's next after Switzerland's 'extremely worrying' heatwave?

With 36.9C recorded in Beznau, in the canton of Aargau on Sunday, Switzerland equalled the high temperature record held by Basel since 1947.

Other Swiss towns experienced sweltering temperatures as well: In Neuchâtel the mercury rose to 36.5C, in Sion it hit 36.4C and  in Lausanne it was 32.6C, according to MeteoNews.

Temperatures were decidedly more pleasant at high altitudes in the mountains: the temperature of 16.9C was recorded at 2,900 metres in the shade on the Diablerets glacier.

Whilst lower down at the Moléson in Fribourg, which stands at 2,000 metres, a more seasonal 24 degrees was recorded.

Like its neighbours, “Switzerland is not immune to brief and extreme phenomena”, climatologist Martin Beniston, honorary professor at the University of Geneva, said in an interview with Tribune de Genève.

And if high temperatures continue — as they are forecast for next days — “the very dry ground will reinforce the warming, it is a vicious circle”, said Vincent Devantay, meteorologist from MeteoNews.

This means higher risk of fires, especially in the forest. “They have really dried up compared to last year. The lack of rain is becoming extremely worrying”, he pointed out.

Thunderstorms are predicted in parts of Switzerland towards the end of the week but they will not necessarily prevent the drought, Beniston said.

What the soil needs are “gentle showers, repeated, for two to three weeks”, rather than occasional heavy thunderstorms that don’t provide enough moisture for the earth’s deeper layers.

Continued rains are not expected in the immediate future and  forecasts for the summer months predict more intense heatwaves.

READ MORE: How this week’s heatwave will hit Switzerland and how to stay cool

What are the consequences of the heatwave and no rain?

As The Local already reported, Swiss glaciers are now melting faster than usual, partly due to the early heat wave in May.
 
READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

But there is more.

Hydrologist Massimiliano Zappa, also warns that current very high temperatures and no rain could speed up the drought across Switzerland, especially as Swiss rivers and streams “have a lower flow than the average of previous years”.

Water rationing could become inevitable, he said.

 “In Spain and southern Italy, for example, people know how to get by with little water, because they have been educated to meet their daily needs with less. But this is not part of Swiss mentality”, Zappa said.

The heat wave could also impact railway installations as well as electronic devices, according to Le Temps newspaper.

“Overheated smartphones, expanding rails, and computer fans running at full speed: high temperatures put a strain on infrastructure and our everyday objects, while requiring more energy”, Le Temps said.
 

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