Two planes forced to turn back to Zurich as wild storms hit Switzerland

UPDATED: Two Swiss International Air Lines flights were forced to return to Zurich after being hit by lightning as wild storms hit Switzerland on Tuesday.

Two planes forced to turn back to Zurich as wild storms hit Switzerland
The flight path of LX 724 to Amsterdam on Tuesday, Screen grab: Flightradar 24

The flights were Swiss flight LX2084 to Lisbon and LX 724 to Amsterdam.

Both were forced to turn back to Zurich after being struck by lightning in the early afternoon, with an airline spokesperson said this was standard procedure in such circumstances.

“We heard a large bang over western Switzerland and the cabin was lit up by a lightning strike,” one passenger told the news site 20 Minuten.

The passenger said that there had been plenty of turbulence because of stormy weather. However, after the lightning strike, the plane's captain reported that everything was order and all instruments were functioning correctly.

The two incidents came after departures from Zurich Airport were temporarily suspended on Tuesday morning after airport management ruled conditions were too dangerous for staff to work outside. 

Around 40 flights were delayed by up to an hour and a half as a result. Flights were able to resume at 8.12am, the airport said in a tweet.

Storms also forced the shutdown of Switzerland's Beznau I nuclear reactor, which was offline for several hours after a lightning strike damaged equipment.  

There was no danger to staff or the general public, operators said of the shutdown which lasted until just after 3pm.

Meanwhile, police in the canton of Bern said they had received 45 calls between 3pm and 5pm as storms struck the region. Most related to fallen trees or flooded cellars, police said.

The tourist centre of Interlaken in canton Bern was hit by winds of up to 109 kilometres per hour while St-Prex on Lake Geneva saw wind gusts of 98 km/h, SRF Meteo reported.

Earlier in the day, SRF Meteo said the country had been hit by 17,000 lightning strikes from midnight on Monday to late morning on Tuesday.

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‘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