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WEATHER

Waterspouts form over Swiss lakes as cold weather hits

Waterspouts were sighted over Lake Zurich, Lake Constance and Lake Zug on Sunday morning, in what is a relatively rare phenomenon for Switzerland.

Waterspouts form over Swiss lakes as cold weather hits
The waterspout over Lake Zurich on Sunday. Photo: Daniel Gerstgrasser

This natural phenomenon forms when layers of unstable cold air make contact with a body of warm water, weather service SRF Meteo reported.

Although waterspouts are rare in Switzerland, when they do occur it is usually at this time of year as air temperatures take a dip towards autumn.

After a cold front passed across much of Switzerland on the weekend, air temperatures dropped dramatically while water temperatures were stable.

On Sunday morning, the water temperature in Lake Zurich was 23C while the air temperature lakeside was a chilly 9C.

“[Waterspouts] usually last a few minutes then quickly disappear,” said Eugen Müller with Meteo Schweiz.

Waterspouts over bodies of water are different from tornadoes over land and do not generally cause wide-scale damage, the meteorologist added.

While temperatures in Switzerland were well down over the weekend, the weather is set to warm up again over the next days, as the long summer of 2018 makes a reprise.

Read also: Have we seen the last 'hot' day of the summer?

WILDFIRES

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

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

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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