Storm ‘Egon’ batters Switzerland

A violent storm swept through the country on Thursday night to Friday morning bringing down trees and causing electricity outages that left thousands of homes in the dark.

Storm ‘Egon’ batters Switzerland
Photo; Lausanne police
Communes in the Jura around Biel/Bienne were without electricity from just before 10pm until 5am after trees fell on power lines, power group BKW Energy told news agencies on Friday. 
Around 10,000 homes were affected. 
Winds of over 100km/hr battered the country, with Saint-Chrischona near Basel registering winds of 139km/hr and Cressier near Neuchâtel 116km/hr, said MeteoNews
In Lausanne a 25m tree fell across the road, bringing down telegraph poles and power lines, said Lausanne police. The road was closed from just after midnight until 7.30am while the trunk was cut up and removed.
After a couple of days of respite from snow, the Swiss lowlands saw snowfall again on Thursday night. 
Sudden downpours and hailstorms are expected on Friday, said MeteoNews, with up to 10cms of snowfall at low altitude and up to 40cms in the mountains by Saturday morning. 
The wintry weather will continue into next week with a bise wind making it feel even colder from Monday, it said.

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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.