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IN PICS: Swiss ski resorts deal with aftermath of heavy snow

Holidaymakers will once again be able to get to and from Zermatt and Zinal in the canton of Valais after being stranded for 24 hours following heavy snow that raised the avalanche risk to maximum.

IN PICS: Swiss ski resorts deal with aftermath of heavy snow
Zermatt train station after heavy snow. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP
The railway line between Täsch and Zermatt was due to reopen on Wednesday morning with the first train expected to leave at 11.15am, the resort said on its website. 
 
However the resort later tweeted that there would be a delay. “The railway cannot operate as planned due to the difficult removal of snow between Täsch and Zermatt. The persons in charge are working hard on the reopening and are confident to open the railway in the afternoon,” it said.
 
The line between Täsch and Visp in the valley remains closed but a bus replacement service is running. 
 
Workers attempt to deal with the vast amounts of snow in Zermatt. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP
 
Zermatt was cut off from the outside world on Monday evening after huge amounts of snow fell in the area, forcing the authorities to close the railway line and nearby roads around the car-free village due to the extreme risk of avalanches.
 
 
The blockage left some 13,000 tourists stranded in the village, without even being able to ski since the pistes were closed. But the village itself was not threatened by avalanches, and everyone remained safe, authorities told the press.
 
On Tuesday afternoon an air bridge was set up for a couple of hours, allowing some people to get in and out by helicopter. 
 
 
But others simply made the most of being stranded in a beautiful Swiss village with fairytale snow. 
 
“The situation is rather romantic. People are finding it funny and are making the most of their forced holiday to go to the spa or walk about. There was a great atmosphere in the bars on Monday night, tourist office president Paul-Mark Julen told 20 Minutes.
 
The Local reader Max Schmieder, who has just started a job in Zermatt, said it was “strange to be so dependent on weather situations. People can only go to the shops, stay in the hotel or go out for lunch”.
 
 
Tourists were also left stranded in Saas-Fee after the access roads were closed due to avalanche risk.
 
 
“We go for walks, make the most of the calm, relax. It’s fantastic to be stuck here, there are worse places!” one 20 Minutes reader in the village told the paper.
 
The road from Saas-Grund to Saas-Almagell reopened on Wednesday morning, but the road between Stalden and Saas-Grund remained closed. 
 
The situation wasn't so good, however, for those who couldn’t reach the resorts, including 300 Belgian schoolchildren who were forced to remain in Sierre after the road to their destination, the ski resort of Zinal in the Val d’Anniviers, was closed, reported Le Matin.
 
A snowboarder walks in the village of Zinal. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
 
However they were later able to continue their journey after the road to Zinal reopened on Tuesday afternoon. 
 
 
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WEATHER

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

As temperatures climb again, many people may struggle to get a good night's sleep in Switzerland. Here are some expert tips to help you even when it's sweltering hot.

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

Switzerland’s summers tend to get hotter and this season has seen its share of heatwaves, bringing temperatures closer to 40C and making it almost impossible to sleep.

This could mean trouble for residents of a country better prepared to bear the cold weather than the extreme heat.

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has three ‘golden rules’ for how to make it through heatwaves; avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day, keep the heat out of your house however you can, drink and eat smart (fresh foods and lots of water).

With night temperatures in some regions above 20C, Swiss residents will also need some help getting through the night.

Here are a few tips to keep cool overnight and enjoy better sleep despite the heat of the night.

Don’t sleep naked

It’s tempting to ditch the PJs when it’s this warm overnight. But sleep experts say this is a mistake, as any moisture from sweat accumulates on your body.

Cotton pyjamas and cotton sheets are very effective in absorbing and removing sweat from your body.

Give a little help to your internal clock

Many people think that it is only the extreme heat in summer making your sleep seem a bit worse than in the colder months. But the fact that days are brighter for longer makes a huge difference.

READ ALSO: How Switzerland’s largest cities are combating the heat

As light suppresses our body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that signals that it is time to sleep, the longer days irritate our internal clock, according to sleep experts.

The old tip of turning off your devices to avoid the blue light is also extra crucial. So around one hour before going to bed, you can start your “darkening” ritual throughout your home.

In that sense, it’s also better to avoid naps during the day to keep a better sleep routine.

Try to cool your room and yourself

Of course, the cooler temperatures are in your bedroom when you go to sleep, the better. You can help get temperatures a few degrees down by following these tips: keep the blinds and windows shut during the worst of the day and ventilate the cooler night breeze during the night.

Sleeping during a heatwave can be difficult. Photo: Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash

You can also moisten your curtains just before bedtime and leave the window open; the water evaporation will make it a bit cooler. If you can, another tip is to put your mattress on the floor as hot air rises – excellent advice for those sleeping on a bunk bed.

Don’t forget to turn off (and unplug!) electrical appliances, as those are heat sources.

READ ALSO: Eight great swimming spots to escape the Swiss summer heat

To cool yourself, you could take a lukewarm evening shower (not a hot one, those will make your body react by generating heat).

Fans and humidity help

As long as you’ve kept your room relatively cool, fans work. They help evaporate sweat which, in turn, helps your body regulate its temperature.

Putting a bowl of ice in front of the fan can also help cool the room.

Some people swear by dampening their sheets before going to bed. But if you’re not used to it, the feeling can be a little disconcerting. You can also place multiple ice containers in the corners of your room, which will melt slowly overnight and cool the air.

Why is it essential to have a good night’s sleep?

Several days of scorching temperatures can cause heat stress, according to the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

If the nights are not cool enough, the body can’t recover from the heat of the day, creating a dangerous condition called “thermal stress”, which can be fatal for the elderly and other vulnerable people.

While there are no statistics showing how many people have fallen victim to heat stress during the most recent heatwave, several cantons have implemented a system of home visits and frequent phone contact with this at-risk group.

READ MORE: How to keep your cool during Switzerland’s heatwave

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