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WEATHER

Weather update: Lake Zurich bursts banks, Lucerne preparing for flooding

The impacts of Europe’s wild weather continue to be felt in Switzerland. Lake Zurich has burst its banks, while Lucerne has closed bridges in anticipation of the flooding.

Weather update: Lake Zurich bursts banks, Lucerne preparing for flooding
A file photo of lightning and rain over the Swiss city of Lausanne. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Heavy rain continued in Switzerland overnight, particularly in the centre of the country. 

Lake Lucerne, Lake Biel and Lake Thun are all threatening to break their banks, while Lake Zurich has already done so as of Friday morning. 

As of Saturday, the weather is expected to improve – however the flood danger is set to remain critical. 

Lucerne, Zurich and Schwyz hit hard

Lucerne is expecting the worst, with pedestrian bridges closed across the city. 

This includes the Chapel Bridge, the Rathaussteg, the Reuss Bridge and the Spreuer Bridge. 

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

Lake Lucerne is expected to burst its banks some time this morning. 

Police have warned that Schwanenplatz is set to flood at some time today. 

Lake Zurich broke its banks at Bellevue, with authorities asking boat users to go slowly to avoid damage to properties along the water. 

In the canton of Schwyz, roads have been closed due to heavy rainfall and flooding. This includes the A4 motorway between Goldau and Seewen ,along with the road between Lauerz and Seewen and that between Seewen and Brunnen. 

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

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WEATHER

Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland's best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland’s best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

At the same time, discharge levels on the Rhine, one of Europe’s major rivers which starts in the Swiss Alps, have never been so low in August since records began.

“There is a low water situation in Switzerland, especially on the central plateau and in the southern part of Ticino,” the country’s southernmost canton, said Michele Oberhansli, from the Federal Office for the Environment’s hydrology division.

READ ALSO: Water flown in by helicopter: How Switzerland has been hit by drought

“The reason for the existing situation is a precipitation deficit in the whole year of 2022, which affects the whole of Switzerland, as well as many other European countries,” she told AFP.

Soil moisture is down across the country and drought is affecting forests and agriculture, she said.

Lakes Constance, Lucerne, Lugano and Walen “are currently recording water levels that have never been so low in an August month since measurements began”, said Oberhansli.

Meanwhile Lakes Zug and Maggiore “continue to show values well below average”.

The shores of Lake Maggiore mark the lowest point in Switzerland, normally at 193 metres above sea level.

READ ALSO: MAP: The Swiss regions in danger of wildfires and the measures in place to avoid them

Except the lakes in the Jura region in the northwest and Lake Thun, the levels of all the other larger Swiss lakes are also below the long-term average.

Rivers down, glaciers melting

Meanwhile many Swiss rivers are recording readings that only occur once every two to 20 years.

“Discharge values on the Reuss and Rhine have never been so low since measurements began in August,” said Oberhansli.

The hydrologist said rain over the coming days should “slightly alleviate” the low water and drought levels, but would “not yet be sufficient to ease the overall situation”.

Following a dry winter, the summer heatwaves hitting Europe have been catastrophic for Switzerland’s Alpine glaciers, which have been melting at an accelerated rate.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

A layer of ice — 15 metres thick in 2012 — has covered the Tsanfleuron Pass between two glaciers since at least the Roman era.

But most of it has gone and the ice on the pass will have melted away completely by the end of September, a ski resort said last week.

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