Switzerland set for cold snap after ‘warmest January day on record’

A cold front is set to sweep across Switzerland from Wednesday evening onwards, after several regions of the country hit record temperatures on Tuesday.

Icicles along a rock wall in the Swiss canton of Graubünden
After one of the warmest starts to the year on record, Switzerland will now experience a drop in temperatures. Photo by Sereina on Unsplash

Five days into January, Switzerland is set for some January style weather from Wednesday evening onwards. 

Swiss weather service Meteonews predicts showers for much of the country, with snow at elevations higher than 500 metres. 

Temperatures between 2 and 5 degrees are predicted in cantons all across the country, other than Ticino where the mercury will reach double figures. 

Depending on your outlook, the shift will be a positive change towards traditional weather or the end of a premature springtime. 

So far in 2022, the weather has resembled that of mid-March, rather than the coldest and darkest part of the year. 

Switzerland brought in the new year with the second-highest temperature ever recorded. 

Poschiavo, in Graubünden, recorded 19.2 degrees on New Year’s Eve, which is slightly lower than the highest ever recorded of 20.6 degrees in 1917. 

Several parts of the country experienced their highest ever January temperatures on Tuesday, with much of the Swiss lowlands well into double figures. 

In the central regions of Gersau and Giswil the temperatures almost hit 20 degrees on Tuesday, while Schaffhausen and Buchs broke previous records by hitting 16.1 degrees. 

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Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.