Switzerland braces for hottest day of 2023 so far as local river dries up

Switzerland braces for hottest day of 2023 so far as local river dries up

Over the last few days, people across Switzerland have been sweltering in 30-degree-plus temperatures as a major heatwave continues to grip the country. After a tropical night was recorded on July 10, and with the heat set to peak on July 11, meteorologists have warned that the weather is having a significant impact on the natural environment, with some Swiss rivers starting to dry up.

From heat to storms and back to heat in Switzerland

After tropical conditions were recorded throughout the weekend, people across Switzerland were treated to brief bouts of heavy rain and violent thunderstorms late on Sunday and on Monday morning. The most dramatic storms were recorded in Basel, Bern, Zurich and Thurgau, where the streets of Pfyn were flooded.

Despite the downpours earlier in the day, Monday night was recorded as the first tropical night of the year in Canton Vaud, joining the rest of the country in enduring a sweaty night’s sleep - a tropical night is when temperatures don’t fall below 20 degrees celsius at night. The warmest nighttime temperatures were recorded in Vevey (23,2), Lugano (22,7) and Locarno (22,3).

Heatwave warning across Switzerland this week

For July 11, MeteoSwiss has already confirmed that a level three (considerable danger) heat weather warning will be in place for practically the whole of Switzerland, with the exception of areas high up in the mountains - although temperatures there will still be around 30 degrees. People across the country are encouraged to protect themselves from exposure to sunlight, avoid physical effort if possible and drink plenty of water

For more information and live updates about the warning level, check out the official government website.

July 11 to be the hottest day of 2023 so far

SRF predicted that July 11 will likely be the hottest day of the year so far in Switzerland, with average temperatures of up to 36 degrees. However, some places will be even hotter, with MeteoSwiss predicting that temperatures in the lower Rhone valley, especially in areas around Sion, could reach a near record-equalling 39 degrees. For other Swiss cities, temperatures will be highest in Geneva at 37 degrees, while Bern, Lucerne, Basel, Zurich and Chur will see the mercury climb to 35. 

The extreme heat - and relative lack of rainfall - is having a profound impact on the natural environment. On the morning of July 11, one resident hoping to take a swim in the Emme - the stream that flows through the Emmental cheese region, Burgdorf and Solothurn - told Blick that the river had dried up over a significant stretch. "I could not believe my eyes", they noted.

With the effects of climate change continuing to take hold, the Emme drying up has become a regular occurrence when it hasn’t rained for a long time. Speaking to Blick last year when the river last dried up, the Emme Burgdorf fishing association called on locals to not waste too much water, as otherwise, the river will retreat further.

Rain and thunderstorms to arrive late on July 11

Luckily for people craving more temperate conditions, the heatwave is expected to end late on Tuesday night, with massive thunderstorms and rain forecast for across the country. However, this won’t be the end of high temperatures: after averages of 25 and 24 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday, the mercury will start to rise again from Friday and peak at between 30 and 33 degrees on Saturday.

Thumb image credit: Mel Rebesco /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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