Avalanche warnings as Valais recovers from record snowfall

Police in the canton of Valais have warned skiers to keep on the marked runs as the avalanche risk rises to 3 or 4 out of 5 in resorts across the region.

Avalanche warnings as Valais recovers from record snowfall
File photo: jazavac/Depositphotos
Valais has experienced some of the heaviest December snowfall in years over the last few days, not just in the mountains but down to the valley floor. 
Sion, the cantonal capital, received a record 65cms of snow over the weekend, and pictures published by local paper Le Nouvelliste showed residents skiing down the streets. Around 80cms fell at higher altitude. 
While most of Switzerland experienced some snow on the weekend, temperatures warmed up on Sunday afternoon turning the precipitation to rain in many places, however the particular meteorological conditions in the Valais meant it kept snowing.
“It’s what I call the Valais miracle, when cold air is trapped in the valley although there’s a thaw at altitude,” meteorologist Frederic Glassey told news agency ATS
The weather played havoc on the roads, leaving some 2,000 motorists stuck on the A9 motorway. Strong winds meant snow was even carried into road tunnels, said Glassey. 
On Tuesday Valais police warned people against walking in forests, saying trees have been weakened by the snowfall and the subsequent thaw, meaning there’s a risk of some falling. 
Skiers should stick to the pistes since “the few days following snowfall are the most dangerous” for avalanches, police warned.
However conditions for skiers who stay on the marked slopes are likely to be incredible.
It's certainly a change from last year when Switzerland experienced its driest December for 150 years
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Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

Not so long ago we complained about the cold and rainy weather in Switzerland, wishing for sunnier and warmer days. Our wish has come true — but why exactly is it so hot and what can we expect for the coming weeks?

Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

The temps have reached high 20s across much of Switzerland in the past days, but the best (or the worst, depending on who you ask) is yet to come: meteorologists forecast the high of 32 degrees for Friday.

“The current heat wave is relatively extreme for a month of May”, meteorologist Joshua Gehring from official weather service MeteoSwiss said in an interview with Watson news platform.

Why is it so unseasonably hot right now?

One reason should come as no surprise to anyone: “What we are currently experiencing, that is to say a relatively early heat wave, is a direct consequence of climate change”, Gehring noted.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

Specifically, a phenomenon called “heat dome” is hovering over Europe. It is, according to Gehring, “a stagnant anticyclone that acts as a lid to accumulate and retain heat”.

This is pretty much what happens when you put a lid over a boiling pot — the heat therein is captured and can’t escape.

What can we expect for next week?

The forecast calls for the heat wave to end from the beginning of next week, with more seasonal, 20-degree-plus temperatures expected throughout the country.

This is what the forecast looks like for Tuesday:

MeteoSwiss screenshot

What can you do in the meantime to cool down?

Indoor air-conditioning is rare in Switzerland, but keeping cool is easier outdoors.

For instance, the abundance of lakes and rivers in Switzerland provides a welcome relief on hot days.

And if you like swimming pools, the good news is (at least during a heat wave) that some are turning off heating to boycott Russian gas, so you could have a nice, cool swim.

READ MORE: Swiss pools go cold in boycott of Russian gas

Also, most public fountains in Switzerland spout cold water you can drink and splash yourself with.

If all else falls, head for the glaciers (while they last).