Weather warning: Swathe of Switzerland faces heavy snow and gales

Although winter doesn't officially start until December 21st, strong winds, snow, and low temperatures are already hitting parts of Switzerland.

Weather warning: Swathe of Switzerland faces heavy snow and gales
Snow will blanket parts of Switzerland in coming days. Photo by AFP

A low pressure system that has formed in the Mediterranean is directing a large mass of humid, cool air towards Switzerland Friday and over the weekend, the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss) warned. 

Strong winds are blowing in Alpine valleys and in the mountains, with gusts of up to 120 kilometres per hour.


The snowline is expected at between 500 and 800m above sea level, but it could drop lower in some regions.

The snowfall between 30 and 40 cm could could blanket the Jura and the Western Alps above 1000 metres.

South of the Alps, up to 80 cm are expected from 600 meters by Sunday.

These forecasts prompted the meteorological agency to issue a 3/5 degree danger warning for much of French-speaking Switzerland and a 4/5 degree warning for Ticino and parts of Graubünden.

The hazard categories are numbered 1 to 5, with 5 being the most severe one.

 This map shows which regions will be most affected by bad weather this weekend, with 4 rated as heaviest-hit. Chart by MeteoSwiss.

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Weather: Switzerland prepares for ‘record-breaking’ hot summer

The hot weather of the past week makes us wonder what the summer months will be like in Switzerland. Will we walk around in shorts and flip-flops or thermal underwear and boots? Find out what the experts say.

Weather: Switzerland prepares for 'record-breaking' hot summer

It has been hot in much of Switzerland over the last few days, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees in some parts of the country.  But this is just a ‘foretaste’ of what lies ahead.

While this week is expected to be a bit cooler — more seasonal lower 20s —forecasts for the summer months call for even more intense heat.

“It will be hotter than usual,” according to Thomas Buchel, head of SRF Meteo.

“New heat records are very likely. It would be surprising if it went in another direction”, he said.

While it is too early now to predict just how hot it will get, the temperatures in certain Swiss regions “could hit 40 degrees”, Buchel pointed out.

This is close to this century’s previous “hottest” summer on record — 41.5 degrees measured in Grono, Graubünden 2003.

Another meteorologist, Joshua Gehring from the official weather service MeteoSwiss, said hotter weather “is a direct consequence of climate change”.

Specifically, a phenomenon called “heat dome” is hovering over Europe. It is, according to Gehring, “a stagnant anticyclone that acts as a lid to accumulate and retain heat”.

READ MORE: Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

But the environment is not the only one that is “suffering”, as it were, from this phenomenon.

According to 20 Minutes, “nearly 400 million francs are lost each year in Switzerland due to the heatwave and the drop in productivity that it causes in companies. That’s twice as much as the seasonal flu”.

“What is ideal for swimming or barbecuing cripples the economy. When working outdoors, performance drops quickly at such high temperatures”.

The Federal Office of Meteorology (MeteoSwiss) confirmed the dangers of extremely high temperatures on humans and nature alike.

“Periods of hot weather place extreme stress on the human body and can endanger health. Among other things, they can trigger cardiovascular and respiratory conditions and impair mental and physical performance”, MeteoSwiss writes.

“A hot spell can also have adverse effects on nature and infrastructure. For example, bodies of water often heat up considerably, causing fish to die, while high temperatures can lead to buckling of road surfaces and deformation of railway tracks”.

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

So if you are a summer enthusiast and thrive in hot weather, you can look forward to sizzling temps.

But f you are more of a “cold” person, this article from April of this year may bring back fond memories:

Winter weather to continue in Switzerland this week