Largest Swiss flag in the world damaged by torrential rain in the Alps

The flag had been deployed on the Säntis mountain in the Alpstein massif in northeastern Switzerland as part of the Swiss National Day celebrations. But the weather hadn't read the script.

Largest Swiss flag in the world damaged by torrential rain in the Alps
File photo of the Swiss flag: Depositphotos

It measures 80 metres by 80 metres and weighs more than 700 kilograms. It took 20 people three hours to install it on a cliff on the Säntis mountain as part of the August 1st Swiss National Day celebrations.

The largest Swiss flag in the world, however, didn't last longer than 24 hours before a tear developed down its left flank.

The torrential rains that fell on Wednesday August 1st were the alleged cause behind the flag's ripping, according to Swiss daily Blick.

The right side of the flag had also incurred damage two years ago, according to Blick. 

Recent high temperatures have broken records in Switzerland but lightning was the key meteorological factor in cantons in the northeast and southwest of the Alpine country on Switzerland's National Day, Wednesday August 1st. Lightning struck 19,032 times yesterday, mainly in the cantons of St Gallen, Valais and Grisons, reports MeteoNews. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland experiencing the hottest summer since 1864

While no casualties were reported, trees were struck down and roads were flooded. In St Gallen, the A13 road was submerged in water while in the canton of Grisons, a mudslide fell on the Flüela Pass, a high mountain road, reports Swiss news portal 24 Heures. The Heizwerk Festival in Arbon on Lake Constance, which is open air, had to be suspended on Wednesday due to torrential rains. 

That event will resume today, according to a statement on the festival's website. 

The brief, intense spells of rain did little however to alleviate Switzerland's chronically dry summer. “On Wednesday, it rained intensely, but only occasionally and nowhere for very long,” said Markus Kägi of MeteoSuisse, Switzerland's Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, reports 24 Heures, adding that prolonged rain would be needed to ease the country's unusually dry summer.

The heatwave has led to fish being relocated for their survival from rivers where temperatures have risen beyond 23 degrees Celsius, wildfire warnings, restrictions on use of water and even enforced cuts in production of energy at a nuclear power plant.  

The high temperatures are expected to last until Saturday at least, according to forecasts from Meteo Suisse. 

READ MORE: Sizzling temperatures leading to 'catastrophe' for fish in Swiss lakes and rivers

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‘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