It WON’T be a white Christmas in Swiss cities this year

Despite the snow that has fallen across Switzerland this December, including at low altitude on Monday this week, it is extremely unlikely to be a white Christmas on the Swiss lowlands this year, according to meteorologists.

It WON’T be a white Christmas in Swiss cities this year
You have to go up high to find snow this Christmas. Photo: Martin Maegli/Swiss Tourism
Temperatures are set to rise towards the end of the week, reaching five or six degrees by Friday, said MeteoNews in a statement. 
Consequently the snow line will rise to over 1,000m, with heavy rain forecast below that level in many places on Friday night. 
Over the weekend and on Christmas Day the weather should be calmer, without any significant precipitation. 
Nevertheless, those city dwellers seeking a white Christmas won’t have to go too far to find snow on the ground. Significant snowfall in the past two weeks means resorts over 1,400m have plenty of white stuff. 
According to MeteoSuisse, it’s pretty rare for Swiss city dwellers to experience a white Christmas – meaning snow on the ground from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day. 
The capital, Bern, sees a white Christmas once every four years, while Neuchâtel in western Switzerland only experiences snow over the holiday season once every 11 years. 
By contrast, the mountain resort of Davos, at 1,600m, has a white Christmas nearly all the time. In fact the only year in the past 80 that it hasn’t was last year, when there was no snow cover at all on Christmas Eve, and only 3cms on Christmas Day which subsequently melted away.
Last December was the driest for 150 years, with resorts having to wait until early January for snow to reappear.
Source: MeteoSuisse
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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.