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Above average Switzerland records abnormally mild winter temperatures

Sunrise over a winter landscape

Heavy snowfall and warm temperatures have made parts of the Alps prone to avalanches this winter.

(Keystone / Anthony Anex)

Parts of Switzerland experienced the second mildest winter since records began, according to the meteorological office. Temperatures were one degree Celsius higher across the country compared to the 1981-2010 average, but areas south of the Alps were even more abnormal.

Winter temperatures were 1.9 degrees higher at the Locarno-Monti station in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino and 1.6 degrees higher in Lugano. This meant that southern Switzerland has seen only one winter with milder temperatures since 1864.

+ The hottest winter in southern Switzerland was in 2007

Temperatures in higher alpine regions, at more than 1,000 metres above sea level, were close to normal levels, said MeteoSwissexternal link on Wednesday as the meteorological winter ended. Lower lying areas north of the Alps recorded temperatures 1.3 degrees above the normal range.

Last year saw the hottest average temperatures on record in many parts of the country.

More recently, Geneva and Basel saw the sunniest February since records began. Preliminary results from Zurich and Bern also indicate an abnormally sunny February.

Warm temperatures, along with heavy dumps of snow, have been blamed for several avalanches that have struck Swiss ski slopes this winter. Several people have been killed by avalanches this season, the latest death being at the Crans-Montana resort in the French-speaking part of the country earlier this month.

#SWISSHISTORYPICS What winter used to look like in Switzerland

Snow in Swiss cities is sparse these days. This was not always the case, as historical black-and-white photographs taken between 1930 and 1970 show.

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