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2000 is hottest year in half a century

Heavy rains in the autumn devastated the village of Gondo

(Keystone)

The year 2000 was the warmest since 1947, according to Switzerland's meteorological office, which found that average temperatures were 2.5 degrees above normal.

The meteorological office this week confirmed that 2000 was the second hottest year since records began in 1864. The hottest was 1947.

Almost from the start of the year, it was clear that 2000 was going to be warmer than usual. February, usually among the coldest months, was unseasonably temperate, and by April it felt as though summer had arrived.

The weather really went awry in July, when a cold and wet spell sent the mercury plunging. By August the summer had returned in earnest, and temperatures stayed well above the average well into December.

The weather also proved increasingly unpredictable during 2000. During the summer months, the meteorological office registered two peaks of particularly bad weather. The first was on June 4, when violent winds of up to 140 kilometres per hour swept across the southern canton of Ticino.

The second was on August 21, when a storm raged across low-lying areas, from Geneva to Lake Constance, in only three hours.

But the worst storms of the year came in the autumn when large parts of Valais and Ticino were flooded, after rivers burst their banks. In the Valais, an entire village was swept away, and 16 people were killed across the canton.

Overall rain and snow levels were 30 to 70 per cent higher than normal in southern regions while other areas experienced precipitation increases of between five and 35 per cent.

North of the Alps and in the Jura, five to 20 per cent more sunshine was seen than in previous years.

swissinfo with agencies

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