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WEATHER

Heatwave puts June on course to be among hottest on record in Switzerland

As Switzerland sweats under a heatwave this week, meteorologists have said the month of June is likely to be among the second or third hottest ever recorded – though it won’t quite beat 2003’s record.

Heatwave puts June on course to be among hottest on record in Switzerland
People cool down in the 2015 heatwave in Lausanne. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Temperatures topped 30 degrees in many parts of the country on Tuesday and look set to stay that way for the rest of the week and beyond. 
 
MeteoNews issued a heatwave alert for much of Switzerland and said the hot weather will persist until the beginning of next week at the earliest. 
 
Temperatures up to 35 degrees are possible, especially in Basel, the Valais and Ticino.
 
“Given the heatwave this week, this month of June 2017 should be the second or third hottest June in Switzerland since records began more than 150 years ago,” it said. 
 
Only June 2003 is likely to be hotter. 
 
 
MeteoSuisse said the average monthly temperature across the country was around three degrees hotter than the norm. 
 
The monthly average won’t surpass the 24 degrees of June 2003, but “there is every chance that 2017 will take second place,” it said, beating 2002 when the average was 20.5 degrees.
 
The European heatwave of 2003 caused the death of 70,000 people across the continent including 975 in Switzerland, seven percent more than the country's normal death rate, according to the Office of public health.
 
The heat is most dangerous for young children and people aged over 65. 
 
Several cities have emergency measures in place to help elderly people suffering in the heat. 
 
Authorities in Lausanne and Geneva pay visits to the over 75s during a heatwave and have established a helpline for those concerned. 
 
Generally, people are advised to avoid going out in the heat during the hours of 11am to 6pm, to drink around two litres of water a day, eat cold meals and avoid physical exercise. 
 
Source: MeteoSuisse

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WEATHER

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.

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