Weather warnings issued as Switzerland faces heavy rain and snow storm
Federal authorities have warned that Switzerland faces three days of heavy rain, wind and snow storms in the lead-up to Christmas. Level four "high danger" warnings for snowfall are in place in areas of the mountains, with the lowlands still vulnerable to flooding.
Switzerland faces three days of bad weather
Thanks to the arrival of a low-pressure front across Europe, manifesting as Storm Pia in places like the Netherlands, MeteoNews predicted that Switzerland will face a bout of inclement weather over the next three days. A significant amount of rain, snow and wind is forecast between noon on December 21 and the afternoon of December 23.
While rain or snow will fall across the country, the heaviest precipitation is expected over the central and eastern Alps, with between 100 and 150 millimetres per square metre of rain or snow forecast during the three days. The heaviest rain and snow is set to fall on December 22.
Snow warnings in place for Swiss Alps
As a result, federal authorities have issued a level four “high danger” warning for blizzards in areas of the central and eastern Alps above 1.400 metres above sea level. Level three “considerable” snow warnings are also in place across most of the mountains.
The government have warned of disruption to Swiss roads, motorways, public transport and airports in the Alpine region. They have advised those looking to travel between noon on December 21 and 5pm on December 23 to try and avoid travelling by car.
Those who have to use a vehicle must ensure their car is clear of snow (or else face a fine from the police), pay regular attention to the driving conditions on the roads (via radio or by calling 163 on their mobile phones) and heed any avalanche warnings. Residents of affected areas who aren't travelling are encouraged to avoid forested areas, as the heavy snow on the trees could lead to falling branches.
Gusts of up to 140 km / h forecast for mountains
The heavy snowfall will also be accompanied by strong wings across the country. Gusts of up to 140 kilometres an hour are forecast in locations above 2.000 metres, 110 km / h gusts are expected above 1.200 metres and 80 km / h winds will grip the Mittelland and Swiss cities. The high winds may disrupt cable cars in Swiss ski resorts, and those venturing out are advised to avoid forests and places exposed to the wind.
The heavy rain and snowfall across Switzerland are also expected to add to the risk of flooding. Small amounts of flooding are already forecast on the Aare between where the river meets the Emme and the Reuss, the Canal de la Thielle and Broye, and Lakes Geneva, Biel / Bienne and Murten. Considerable warnings are in place for Lake Neuchâtel, while a high danger alert is in place for the Aare between Lake Biel / Bienne and the Emme.
Weather warnings set to end in Switzerland before Christmas
Like the warnings issued last week, those in areas affected by flooding have been encouraged to avoid the banks of lakes and rivers and to pay attention to any alerts issued by the emergency services. At the time of writing, the warnings are expected to remain in place until 5pm on December 23. To stay regularly updated, visit the official Swiss Natural Hazards Portal.