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Will there be a white Christmas in Switzerland this year?

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The Local ([email protected])
Will there be a white Christmas in Switzerland this year?
Local residents walk in the snow in Geneva on December 9, 2022. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)

After lots of snow and sub-zero temperatures this December, many people are wondering if Switzerland will see a white Christmas. Here's what to expect.

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Swiss weather experts have been sharing their forecasts for the coming days in anticipation of the festive weekend - but it looks like milder weather is here to stay, at least for now. 

Roger Perret, meteorologist for MeteoNews, said on December 16th that a white Christmas was extremely unlikely in low altitude areas. 

There has to be at least one centimetre of snow at 7am on December 24th, 25th or 26th to make it a white Christmas.

Last week up to 10 centimetres of snow was recorded in Aargau. But according to MeteoNews, it is set to be around 12C in Aarau on December 24th.

"The weather is clearly throwing a spanner in the works of the hoped-for white Christmas," said Perret.

"We expect very mild temperatures this week. It will rain up to over 1,500 metres, and on Friday it will only snow from well above 2,000 metres."

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'Christmas thunderstorm'

So what will the weather be like? Expect lots of rain and wind. 

Forecaster Perret said that "Christmas thunderstorm" weather was set to hit the lowlands. 

"Christmas thunderstorm is the term used to describe the mild, wet period of weather with Atlantic air mass that always occurs around Christmas in Central Europe, and thus also in Switzerland."

The Meteonews map below shows the weather on Christmas Eve.

Switzerland

Weather December 24th. Source: Meteonews

"Often a mild phase sets in before the holidays and then gives us a widespread green Christmas in the lowlands, even if - as this year - there was already a blanket of snow beforehand."

Meteonews tweeted on Wednesday: "In the coming days, it will not only be mild, but also windy. On Friday, we expect wind peaks between 60 and 70 km/h in the lowlands, on the mountains there will be storm gusts, and in exposed locations hurricane gusts."

Perret added that studies have shown that, especially since the 2000s, snowfall in the lowlands before and at Christmas has become much less frequent, which is likely due to global warming.

"Nevertheless, the variability of the climate still allows for the possibility of a white Christmas in the lowlands as an exception," said Perret.

Here are some Christmas weather records in Switzerland:

Highest temperature recorded: Acquarossa/Comprovasco 19.6C (25.12. 2016)

Lowest temperature: La Brévine -37.8C (24.12. 2001)

Largest snowfall at altitudes below 600 m: Chur 57 cm (24.12. 1962)

Largest snowfall in the mountains: Säntis 475 cm (26. 12. 1981)

Largest amount of new snow in 24 hours at altitudes below 600 m: Chur 39 cm (24.12. 1923)

Largest amount of new snow in 24 hours in the mountains: San Bernardino 120 cm (25.12. 2013)

Largest total precipitation over Christmas: Brissago 256 litres (2013)

Maximum gusts below 600 m: Brienz 182 km/h (26.12. 1999, storm Lothar)

Maximum gusts in the mountains: Jungfraujoch 249 km/h (26.12. 1999, storm Lothar)

 

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