Endless summer: Switzerland records eight ‘hot’ weekends in a row

Switzerland this weekend again experienced temperatures over 30C – the eight consecutive weekend this has been the case.

Endless summer: Switzerland records eight 'hot' weekends in a row

After a cold front last Friday, temperatures again picked up on Saturday, hitting the high 20s in much of Switzerland and surpassing meteorologists' magic 30C-mark – the official indicator of a “hot” day – in the canton of Graubünden.

The weather was a bit warmer on Sunday, again with the key 30C-mark reached in the canton of Ticino and along the Rhone Valley.

A dried out sunflower near Perly-Certoux, canton Geneva, in August. Photo: AFP

This means Switzerland has now experienced eight weekends in a row with at least one day over 30C. The last time the thermometer failed to hit this mark was on the weekend of June 23rd and June 24th.

The summery conditions are set to continue until Friday. Valais and Ticino can expect the warmest of the weather while the northern side of the Alps can also expect very warm weather with possible afternoon rain showers or storms, especially in the mountains.

After a cooler weekend coming up, the fabled summer of 2018 is set to continue.

While the hot summer weather has been welcomed by holidaymakers, the dry conditions have made life difficult for farmers and wildlife. The army has helped bring water to thirsty cows in the Alps while the Swiss Fishing Federation told The Local fish populations were seriously struggling.

There has also been a spike in the number of people drowning in the county's lakes and rivers.

Read also: Swiss nuclear power point cuts production as river heats up

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‘Critical situation’: Drought threatens Switzerland’s cheese production

The long dry spell has impacted much of the country’s agriculture, including the production of milk and cheese in some Swiss regions.

‘Critical situation’: Drought threatens Switzerland’s cheese production

It is difficult to imagine Switzerland without its cheese, but the heatwave and lack of water is playing a part in this worst-case scenario, with even the iconic Gruyère under threat. 

Usually, Swiss cows spend the summer high up the mountains, grazing on Alpine pastures until they are brought down – sometimes with a bit of local ceremony – from the mountains onto the plain in the fall.

But this year’s heatwave  and drought have disrupted this traditional process – with parched meadows running short of both grass and water, forcing farmers in canton of Vaud to bring their cattle to the lower ground in the middle of summer.

Vaud agricultural authorities estimate that 60 out of Jura’s 200 mountain pastures are “in acute lack of water” and even though the canton is supplying water to the breeders, “the unprecedented heatwave will in any case affect the production of milk and cheese”, Le Temps daily reported.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why are cows so important in Switzerland?

The situation is similarly dire in the canton of Fribourg, where the famous Gruyère cheese has been produced for centuries.

“The situation is tense, even critical”, according to Frédéric Ménétrey, director of the Fribourg Chamber of Agriculture, who said that 15 alpine pastures that are inaccessible by road are being supplied by private helicopters.

With “lack of water and dry grass”, milk production could be reduced by “20 to 30 percent”, Said Dominique de Buman, president of the Fribourg Cooperative of Alpine Cheese Producers.

This also means that less Gruyère will be made this year and, if heatwaves and droughts become a standard summer weather, “we must reflect on how to adapt the alpine economy and agriculture to global warming”, Éric Mosimann, manager of the Vaud Society of Alpine Economy, pointed out.
 READ MORE: How Switzerland is protecting its cheeses from foreign influence