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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.

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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

What’s next after Switzerland’s ‘extremely worrying’ heatwave?

Switzerland hit record high temperatures for June for the first time in 75 years on Sunday but what's the forecast for the coming days and weeks?

What's next after Switzerland's 'extremely worrying' heatwave?

With 36.9C recorded in Beznau, in the canton of Aargau on Sunday, Switzerland equalled the high temperature record held by Basel since 1947.

Other Swiss towns experienced sweltering temperatures as well: In Neuchâtel the mercury rose to 36.5C, in Sion it hit 36.4C and  in Lausanne it was 32.6C, according to MeteoNews.

Temperatures were decidedly more pleasant at high altitudes in the mountains: the temperature of 16.9C was recorded at 2,900 metres in the shade on the Diablerets glacier.

Whilst lower down at the Moléson in Fribourg, which stands at 2,000 metres, a more seasonal 24 degrees was recorded.

Like its neighbours, “Switzerland is not immune to brief and extreme phenomena”, climatologist Martin Beniston, honorary professor at the University of Geneva, said in an interview with Tribune de Genève.

And if high temperatures continue — as they are forecast for next days — “the very dry ground will reinforce the warming, it is a vicious circle”, said Vincent Devantay, meteorologist from MeteoNews.

This means higher risk of fires, especially in the forest. “They have really dried up compared to last year. The lack of rain is becoming extremely worrying”, he pointed out.

Thunderstorms are predicted in parts of Switzerland towards the end of the week but they will not necessarily prevent the drought, Beniston said.

What the soil needs are “gentle showers, repeated, for two to three weeks”, rather than occasional heavy thunderstorms that don’t provide enough moisture for the earth’s deeper layers.

Continued rains are not expected in the immediate future and  forecasts for the summer months predict more intense heatwaves.

READ MORE: How this week’s heatwave will hit Switzerland and how to stay cool

What are the consequences of the heatwave and no rain?

As The Local already reported, Swiss glaciers are now melting faster than usual, partly due to the early heat wave in May.
 
READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

But there is more.

Hydrologist Massimiliano Zappa, also warns that current very high temperatures and no rain could speed up the drought across Switzerland, especially as Swiss rivers and streams “have a lower flow than the average of previous years”.

Water rationing could become inevitable, he said.

 “In Spain and southern Italy, for example, people know how to get by with little water, because they have been educated to meet their daily needs with less. But this is not part of Swiss mentality”, Zappa said.

The heat wave could also impact railway installations as well as electronic devices, according to Le Temps newspaper.

“Overheated smartphones, expanding rails, and computer fans running at full speed: high temperatures put a strain on infrastructure and our everyday objects, while requiring more energy”, Le Temps said.
 

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