Heavy snow disrupts Swiss roads, rails and airports

Heavy snow fell across Switzerland on the weekend, causing accidents on the roads, and delays and cancellations to train services and flights.

Heavy snow disrupts Swiss roads, rails and airports
Photo: St Gallen police
Some 80 flights were cancelled at Zurich airport on Sunday morning, though the situation later stabilized as the snow turned to rain, reported Swiss media.
In the canton of Vaud, the train line between Aigle and Bex was shut on Sunday afternoon after a train got stuck between the two. 
Its 400 passengers had to wait five hours to be evacuated because accessing the train proved difficult for rescue services, a spokesman told news agency ATS.
Rail traffic partly restarted on Monday morning but only on one line, the other remaining blocked.
However due to frozen rails along the same line delays and cancellations remained a common theme when commuters went back to work on Monday. 
Several mountain roads in the Valais, which was particularly badly hit by snow, were closed on Monday after the heavy snowfall in the previous days presented an avalanche risk.
Snow chains were obligatory on others.
Heavy snow in Verbier in the Valais. Photo: Laura Mathew
Accidents were reported all over the country, with some 40 in the canton of St Gallen alone.
One 20-year-old driver in the canton had a lucky escape when his car skidded on a curve and nearly fell into the Linth canal. He and his passenger were unhurt, said police.
Conditions on the motorways were difficult. Photo: Matt Radmore
Strong foehn winds hit the country on Sunday, with gusts of up to 100km/hr even in alpine valleys and the Jura, said MeteoNews
According to MeteoSuisse the strong winds will continue through Monday, along with significant precipitation, with up to 80cms expected in the Alps. 
The situation will calm on Tuesday.
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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.