‘The situation is critical’: Switzerland’s wild weather to continue

Daniel Wighton
Daniel Wighton - [email protected] • 15 Jul, 2021 Updated Thu 15 Jul 2021 18:38 CEST
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A file photo of a flooding lake in Erlach, near Bern. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Several parts of Switzerland are flooded, with the situation “critical” in some areas. Here’s what you need to know.

The thunderstorms sweeping across Western Europe have hit Switzerland hard, with thunderstorms and flooding in several Swiss cities and regions. 

Swiss officials warn that rivers and lakes are at their breaking point, especially in the north and west of the country. 

Swiss meteorological organisation MeteoSuisse says it has already rained more this July than any normal July in recorded history. 

The situation is particularly precarious in Lucerne, where Lake Lucerne is threatening to break its banks.

The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has marked Lucerne with a Level 5 (very high risk) danger rating. 

According to the FOEN, a Level 5 event only occurs once every 100 years on average. 

The situation is also particularly serious in Oberkirch, where flood levels are high and railway lines, villages, cities and industrial plants are impacted by flooding. 

Lake Biel has reached its higher ever flood level, which authorities expect will go higher in the coming days. 

Where else is affected? 

Several other cities have been impacted by the floods. 

These include Bern, Zurich, Ligerz am Bielersee , Spiez am Thunersee and Frauenthal an der Lorze, all of which attracted the fourth danger level. 

Shipping along the Rhine in the Basel region has already been stopped, while train connections have been cancelled across much of the country. 

Municipal authorities have put in place a bathing and stand up paddling ban in Lake Thun, the Aare, Lake Wohlensee, the Zihl Canal up to Lake Neuchâtel and the Nidau-Büren Canal.

While a bathing ban might seem unnecessary, obviously one elderly bather in Lake Zurich didn’t think so. 

Further rain is expected in the coming days in central and eastern Switzerland. 

The city centre in Nidwalden is also affected. 

What is happening next? 

The federal government has forecast a continuation of the situation in coming days. 

The Federal Office for the Environment expects an additional 60 and 80 millimeters of rain in the affected areas over the coming days. 

President Guy Parmelin said “the storms devastating our country are worrying”. 

Parmelin took to Twitter after visiting Lake Biel. 

“I am close to Lake Biel, whose level has exceeded the flooding threshold this morning and is still rising. I could see with my own eyes how critical the situation is.”

What to do in the case of flooding or natural disasters in Switzerland

Swiss authorities encourage people to remain calm and to avoid taking risks during floods, such as crossing flooded water ways in cars. 

People wanting to stay up to date with the latest danger warnings can be informed through the AlertSwiss app or the MeteoSwiss app. 

These apps provide up to date information on the weather and any possible dangers. 

Other sites to follow to stay up to date is the government’s natural hazards portal, which shows the most dangerous areas for floodwater, and provides upcoming forecasts. 

You can also find several important emergency numbers at the following link. 

READ MORE: Nine Swiss phone numbers you should never forget



Daniel Wighton 2021/07/15 18:38

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