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Is spring already springing up in Switzerland?

It may still be chilly in most Swiss regions, but warmer weather is coming our way.

Is spring already springing up in Switzerland?
Warmer weather is only days away, meteorologists say. Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

The spring doesn’t officially start for more than a month — on March 20th — but weather forecast calls for 18 degrees by Friday in several parts of the country.

While it will be cloudy on Tuesday and Wednesday, especially in northern Switzerland, and precipitation is expected along the Alps, the weather should shift on Thursday, with temperatures reaching 6 to 8 degrees across Switzerland.

Dryer air and sunshine are then expected on Friday, when temperatures will rise to 18 degrees, especially in north-western Switzerland, according to the Federal Office of Meteorology, MeteoSwiss.

In fact, based on its longer-term forecast, MeteoSwiss predicts, with a probability of 60 percent, that this year’s spring season, specifically the period between March and May, will be “above average” in terms of warmth.

Seasonal forecasts are established each month for the following three months for north-eastern, western, and southern Switzerland.

But don’t pack away your coats and wellies just yet.

That’s because the accuracy of long-term forecasts remains limited, as “they are inherently subject to great uncertainty, even though significant progress has been made in recent years, thanks to high-performance computers and model simulations”, according to MeteoSwiss.  

But while unseasonably warm weather might be enjoyable for us humans, it is not necessarily a good thing for the eco-system, as higher-than-normal temperatures disrupt the natural cycle of plants and animals.

EXPLAINED: Why warm winters are especially bad for Switzerland

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What’s next after Switzerland’s ‘extremely worrying’ heatwave?

Switzerland hit record high temperatures for June for the first time in 75 years on Sunday but what's the forecast for the coming days and weeks?

What's next after Switzerland's 'extremely worrying' heatwave?

With 36.9C recorded in Beznau, in the canton of Aargau on Sunday, Switzerland equalled the high temperature record held by Basel since 1947.

Other Swiss towns experienced sweltering temperatures as well: In Neuchâtel the mercury rose to 36.5C, in Sion it hit 36.4C and  in Lausanne it was 32.6C, according to MeteoNews.

Temperatures were decidedly more pleasant at high altitudes in the mountains: the temperature of 16.9C was recorded at 2,900 metres in the shade on the Diablerets glacier.

Whilst lower down at the Moléson in Fribourg, which stands at 2,000 metres, a more seasonal 24 degrees was recorded.

Like its neighbours, “Switzerland is not immune to brief and extreme phenomena”, climatologist Martin Beniston, honorary professor at the University of Geneva, said in an interview with Tribune de Genève.

And if high temperatures continue — as they are forecast for next days — “the very dry ground will reinforce the warming, it is a vicious circle”, said Vincent Devantay, meteorologist from MeteoNews.

This means higher risk of fires, especially in the forest. “They have really dried up compared to last year. The lack of rain is becoming extremely worrying”, he pointed out.

Thunderstorms are predicted in parts of Switzerland towards the end of the week but they will not necessarily prevent the drought, Beniston said.

What the soil needs are “gentle showers, repeated, for two to three weeks”, rather than occasional heavy thunderstorms that don’t provide enough moisture for the earth’s deeper layers.

Continued rains are not expected in the immediate future and  forecasts for the summer months predict more intense heatwaves.

READ MORE: How this week’s heatwave will hit Switzerland and how to stay cool

What are the consequences of the heatwave and no rain?

As The Local already reported, Swiss glaciers are now melting faster than usual, partly due to the early heat wave in May.
READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

But there is more.

Hydrologist Massimiliano Zappa, also warns that current very high temperatures and no rain could speed up the drought across Switzerland, especially as Swiss rivers and streams “have a lower flow than the average of previous years”.

Water rationing could become inevitable, he said.

 “In Spain and southern Italy, for example, people know how to get by with little water, because they have been educated to meet their daily needs with less. But this is not part of Swiss mentality”, Zappa said.

The heat wave could also impact railway installations as well as electronic devices, according to Le Temps newspaper.

“Overheated smartphones, expanding rails, and computer fans running at full speed: high temperatures put a strain on infrastructure and our everyday objects, while requiring more energy”, Le Temps said.