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Farms, forests and fireworks Weather authorities urge caution ahead of another week of severe heat and dryness

A Swiss army Superpuma Helicopter discharges water over the forest fires near Mesocco in Southern Switzerland

Army helicopters have already been called upon five times by cattle farmers to bring water to their herds.


The Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwissexternal link warned that temperatures this week in the Lake Geneva region and the southern canton of Valais would reach 31-35 degrees Celsius (88-95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Even the northern Basel region will not be spared, having been assigned a level 3 out of 5 on the danger scale, along with the southern canton of Ticino. The evening hours will offer no respite, with night-time temperatures set to exceed 20 degrees.

A region can be said to be experiencing a heatwave when temperatures reach 30 degrees for at least three consecutive days, according to MeteoNews. The weather service added that the Swiss National Day on August 1, which falls on Wednesday this week, could well be the hottest day of the year.

+ Switzerland at risk of water shortages and forest fires

In many cantons and municipalities, fireworks have been prohibited to varying degrees – in some cases private displays only, and in others, public shows as well. Fireworks will be in shorter supply at any rate: Swiss retailers Coop and Migros announced they would halt sales of the devices at the end of last week.

Swiss army on standby for farms and forest fires

Dryness will continue to accompany the heat in general, with only isolated local storms predicted, according to the weather service of Swiss Public Television, SRF Meteo.

A spokesperson for the Swiss Defence Ministry confirmed on Sunday to the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that the Swiss Air Force has been called upon by cattle farmers five times since July 20 to intervene in the cantons of St Gallen, Appenzell Inner-Rhodes and Glarus by delivering water to dry pastures via helicopter. Two more deliveries are anticipated in the coming days.

Peter Bruns, a Swiss Air Force colonel, told the SonntagsZeitung that a helicopter is also at the ready in canton Ticino to be deployed at any moment in case it is needed to help extinguish a forest fire. Other fire brigades in canton Graubünden are taking similar precautions by storing water in tanks in dry places.


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