Ships plying the Rhine in Switzerland have had to ditch much of their cargo as a a prolonged absence of rain causes water levels to dip way below normal.

"/> Ships plying the Rhine in Switzerland have had to ditch much of their cargo as a a prolonged absence of rain causes water levels to dip way below normal.

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WEATHER

Lack of rain hurts cargo firms on Rhine

Ships plying the Rhine in Switzerland have had to ditch much of their cargo as a a prolonged absence of rain causes water levels to dip way below normal.

Lack of rain hurts cargo firms on Rhine
Swiss images (File)

With almost no rain falling on Switzerland in the last month, the depth of the Rhine stands at a measly 1.5 metres in the harbour in Basel, compared to its usual three or four metres in November. 

The shallow waters are causing major losses for cargo companies that can only transport between 30 to 40 percent of their usual load.

The head of the Danser cargo firm, Heinz Amacker, said revenue was down by 50 percent over the last two weeks.

“Cargo ships normally carry 3,200 tonnes of goods, but at the moment they are only transporting 900 to 1,000,” Amacker told newspaper NZZ.

He said it was impossible to compensate by increasing the price threefold, but he admits having raised the price per tonne transported by 20 to 30 percent.

If it does not rain in the coming weeks, the situation could become precarious, said Amacker. If the water level drops to 1.20 metres, ships will no longer be able to dock in the city’s port. 

According to weather forecasts, Switzerland is set remain in the grip of the unusual autumn drought for several more weeks. The protracted dry spell is the second of its kind this year, after very little rain fell in the period from February to April.

In the last 150 years, only 1921 saw drier weather for the period from January to October.

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WEATHER

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

As temperatures climb again, many people may struggle to get a good night's sleep in Switzerland. Here are some expert tips to help you even when it's sweltering hot.

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

Switzerland’s summers tend to get hotter and this season has seen its share of heatwaves, bringing temperatures closer to 40C and making it almost impossible to sleep.

This could mean trouble for residents of a country better prepared to bear the cold weather than the extreme heat.

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has three ‘golden rules’ for how to make it through heatwaves; avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day, keep the heat out of your house however you can, drink and eat smart (fresh foods and lots of water).

With night temperatures in some regions above 20C, Swiss residents will also need some help getting through the night.

Here are a few tips to keep cool overnight and enjoy better sleep despite the heat of the night.

Don’t sleep naked

It’s tempting to ditch the PJs when it’s this warm overnight. But sleep experts say this is a mistake, as any moisture from sweat accumulates on your body.

Cotton pyjamas and cotton sheets are very effective in absorbing and removing sweat from your body.

Give a little help to your internal clock

Many people think that it is only the extreme heat in summer making your sleep seem a bit worse than in the colder months. But the fact that days are brighter for longer makes a huge difference.

READ ALSO: How Switzerland’s largest cities are combating the heat

As light suppresses our body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that signals that it is time to sleep, the longer days irritate our internal clock, according to sleep experts.

The old tip of turning off your devices to avoid the blue light is also extra crucial. So around one hour before going to bed, you can start your “darkening” ritual throughout your home.

In that sense, it’s also better to avoid naps during the day to keep a better sleep routine.

Try to cool your room and yourself

Of course, the cooler temperatures are in your bedroom when you go to sleep, the better. You can help get temperatures a few degrees down by following these tips: keep the blinds and windows shut during the worst of the day and ventilate the cooler night breeze during the night.

Sleeping during a heatwave can be difficult. Photo: Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash

You can also moisten your curtains just before bedtime and leave the window open; the water evaporation will make it a bit cooler. If you can, another tip is to put your mattress on the floor as hot air rises – excellent advice for those sleeping on a bunk bed.

Don’t forget to turn off (and unplug!) electrical appliances, as those are heat sources.

READ ALSO: Eight great swimming spots to escape the Swiss summer heat

To cool yourself, you could take a lukewarm evening shower (not a hot one, those will make your body react by generating heat).

Fans and humidity help

As long as you’ve kept your room relatively cool, fans work. They help evaporate sweat which, in turn, helps your body regulate its temperature.

Putting a bowl of ice in front of the fan can also help cool the room.

Some people swear by dampening their sheets before going to bed. But if you’re not used to it, the feeling can be a little disconcerting. You can also place multiple ice containers in the corners of your room, which will melt slowly overnight and cool the air.

Why is it essential to have a good night’s sleep?

Several days of scorching temperatures can cause heat stress, according to the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

If the nights are not cool enough, the body can’t recover from the heat of the day, creating a dangerous condition called “thermal stress”, which can be fatal for the elderly and other vulnerable people.

While there are no statistics showing how many people have fallen victim to heat stress during the most recent heatwave, several cantons have implemented a system of home visits and frequent phone contact with this at-risk group.

READ MORE: How to keep your cool during Switzerland’s heatwave

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