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Burglind Risk of flooding and avalanches after storm

tree down

Winter storm Burglind whipping up water from Lake Alpnach in Stansstad in central Switzerland

(KEYSTONE/Urs Flüeler)

Switzerland is tidying up after the storm Burglind toppled trees, scaffolding, powerlines and even a train carriage. Additional destruction could follow in the form of high water and avalanches. 

+ On Wednesday, Burglind ripped across Switzerland with winds of almost 200km per hour. 

Eight people were injured, though not seriously, when a strong gust derailed a train in the mountain resort of Lenk – as captured on film by a reader of Swiss news portal 20 Minutesexternal link

Preliminary estimates put the damage wreaked by the storms at more than CHF40 million ($41 million). This compares with damages of CHF1.8 billion caused by bad weather in Switzerland over the Christmas period in 1999.

Wednesday's storm, which also hit other European countries including Germany and France, was a rich source of dramatic video material, such as these scenes from around Switzerland:

The passage of storm Burglind across much of Switzerland on Wednesday wrought havoc, with winds of up to 200km/h. (SRF/SDA) 

Heavy rain and snow have continued to shower much of Switzerland on Thursday.

Several mountain villages, notably in the Valais region, were cut off as roads were closed and train links suspended due to a high risk of avalanches and mudslides.

Experts said poor weather conditions could persists for at least one more day across the Alps.  

“What’s unusual is all the precipitation combined with the rising snowline. There’s already a fair amount of snow above 2,000 metres. That means we expect quite a lot of meltwater,” predicts meteorologist Gaudenz Flury of Swiss public television’s SRF Meteo. 

As Flury points out, this has elevated the risk of flooding somewhat, with the national Natural Hazards Portalexternal link predicting considerable flooding danger in northern Switzerland, especially near the River Rhine. 

As for avalanches, the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Researchexternal link describes a “very critical avalanche situation” over a wide swath of Switzerland, with red meaning a high danger of avalanches, orange meaning considerable and yellow meaning moderate.

map of Switzerland
(WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF) with agencies/sm, ug

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