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Balmy January set to go down in record books

Skiers lifted above the green in the quest for snow Keystone Archive

The month of January is set to be the warmest on record in Switzerland despite the cold snap at the end of the month, according to the national weather service.

This content was published on January 31, 2007 - 17:18

MeteoSwiss said Zurich recorded an average temperature of 4.8° Celsius up until January 29, which was 1.3°C higher than the previous record set in 1993.

The weather service said temperatures in January followed on from the highs that marked the last few months of 2006.

The unseasonably warm weather comes after two winters that were cold for periods long enough for smaller bodies of water to freeze. The temperatures were below the norm of the past 40 years.

But the month of January since the mid 1970s has been markedly milder than in the previous decades.

North, northeastern and southern Switzerland experienced temperatures much higher than the norm, and records were set in Basel, Bern, Zurich and Lugano.

And the average temperature was exceeded on several days in mountain regions, and nearly every second day on Mount Säntis in the northeast.

This development coupled with little snowfall, has wreaked havoc with the ski industry, with many low-lying resorts unable to open for business.

Sub tropical zone

According to meteorologists, warm air masses bringing strong and gale-force winds from the sub tropical zone over the Atlantic were responsible for the mild temperatures at the beginning of the month.

Highs often not seen before the end of April were recorded during the storm Kyrill on January 18 and 19. Parts of southern Switzerland recorded highs of 24°C.

Zurich received its first snow on January 23. Only in the years 1988 and 1990 did it come later.

MeteoSwiss also said the warm weather would move up the start of the hay fever season in the country.

Small amounts of pollen from hazel trees was already registered in the first week of the year. This has been the case only in five other years since 1990.

Exceptional in 2007, the weather service added, was the high concentration of pollen in the air for a sustained two-week period.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Average temperatures in January 2007:
Basel +6.1C
Bern +4.0C
Zurich +4.8C
Lugano +6.4C

Previous records:
Basel +5.3C (1948)
Bern +3.1C (1936)
Zurich +3.5C (1993)
Lugano +5.2C (1921)

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