'Highest winds in history': Hurricane sweeps across Switzerland

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'Highest winds in history': Hurricane sweeps across Switzerland
A storm sweeps over Lake Geneva (illustration photo). Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Hurricane Petra has swept across Switzerland on Monday night and Tuesday morning, causing damage, electricity shortages and road closures.


The hurricane brought with it the highest winds seen in the country since 1981. 

Thousands of damage reports flooded in from across the country, with disruptions to the electricity service as well as road closures across the country. 

Police said that the major issues were caused by trees falling on roads and houses, while wind also blew barriers from construction sites, portable toilets and trampolines away.

Although there were some reports of car accidents and injuries, so far nobody has been killed in the storm front.  

More inclement weather is predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday as temperatures drop across the region, although winds are expect to ease from Tuesday afternoon onwards. 

Winds of more than 170km/h were recorded by the Swiss meteorology service in the Napf and Bantiger mountains in Bern. This is the highest wind reading ever recorded in Switzerland since record keeping began in 1981. 

The previous high was recorded during Hurricane Vivian in February of 1990. 

While the highest winds were recorded in the country’s mountainous regions, wind gauges were also challenged in the Swiss lowlands.

Near Zurich highs of 129km/h were recorded, with the fire department deployed more than 200 times in that region alone. 

Several other areas which are usually sheltered from high winds recorded gusts of more than 100km/h. 

Extreme weather breeds extreme weather

The major reason for the storm front was two contrasting episodes of extreme weather. 

Before the storm, temperatures across Switzerland reached highs of 20 degrees - breaking February records - before a cold front moved in. 

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