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WEATHER

Adieu 162: Switzerland to retire telephone weather service from Monday

If you're still dialling 162 to get the weather forecast, there are some clouds on the horizon.

A rotary phone in a red telephone box
Calling 162 will no longer get you the weather report, from November 1st onwards. Photo by Antoine Barrès on Unsplash

Dialing 162 on the phone to hear the latest weather forecast — the service that has been in use for 30 years —  will no longer be possible from November 1st.

Due to lack of interest, Switzerland’s official weather service, MeteoSchweiz, has decided to discontinue its telephone service.

In an update on the MeteoSchweiz website, the agency confirmed the number would be given a “well-deserved retirement”. 

“With the increasing popularity of alternative information channels such as the MeteoSwiss website and the MeteoSwiss app, the use of 162 has been declining for a long time. The current usage figures and comparatively high operating costs led to the decision to discontinue the number 162 at the end of this month.”

To be maintained, three-digit phone numbers must be used by a large audience, at least several million per year.

Swiss bureaucracy: Ten tasks you can do online in Vaud

But in 2020, barely 350,000 calls were received on the automated service — down from about 7 million in the early 2000s.

One of the main reasons for the drop in callers is the ease of getting weather forecasts on smartphones or online.

Those who want to make sure they continue to get their info directly from MeteoSchweiz can still do so relatively easily however, as the website and app provide up to date coverage of the latest weather in cities towns and villages all across Switzerland. 

The weather is available in English, as well as in each of Switzerland’s national languages. 

Short numbers themselves are set to be phased out over the coming 14 months, with the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) ruling that all (except emergency numbers) will be phased out by the 1st of January 2023. 

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WEATHER

Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland's best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland’s best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

At the same time, discharge levels on the Rhine, one of Europe’s major rivers which starts in the Swiss Alps, have never been so low in August since records began.

“There is a low water situation in Switzerland, especially on the central plateau and in the southern part of Ticino,” the country’s southernmost canton, said Michele Oberhansli, from the Federal Office for the Environment’s hydrology division.

READ ALSO: Water flown in by helicopter: How Switzerland has been hit by drought

“The reason for the existing situation is a precipitation deficit in the whole year of 2022, which affects the whole of Switzerland, as well as many other European countries,” she told AFP.

Soil moisture is down across the country and drought is affecting forests and agriculture, she said.

Lakes Constance, Lucerne, Lugano and Walen “are currently recording water levels that have never been so low in an August month since measurements began”, said Oberhansli.

Meanwhile Lakes Zug and Maggiore “continue to show values well below average”.

The shores of Lake Maggiore mark the lowest point in Switzerland, normally at 193 metres above sea level.

READ ALSO: MAP: The Swiss regions in danger of wildfires and the measures in place to avoid them

Except the lakes in the Jura region in the northwest and Lake Thun, the levels of all the other larger Swiss lakes are also below the long-term average.

Rivers down, glaciers melting

Meanwhile many Swiss rivers are recording readings that only occur once every two to 20 years.

“Discharge values on the Reuss and Rhine have never been so low since measurements began in August,” said Oberhansli.

The hydrologist said rain over the coming days should “slightly alleviate” the low water and drought levels, but would “not yet be sufficient to ease the overall situation”.

Following a dry winter, the summer heatwaves hitting Europe have been catastrophic for Switzerland’s Alpine glaciers, which have been melting at an accelerated rate.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

A layer of ice — 15 metres thick in 2012 — has covered the Tsanfleuron Pass between two glaciers since at least the Roman era.

But most of it has gone and the ice on the pass will have melted away completely by the end of September, a ski resort said last week.

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