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Snowman forecasts lousy summer

How much longer can the böögg hold out? Keystone

Switzerland can look forward to miserable summer weather in 2013 – if Zurich’s giant exploding snowman is to be believed. Fortunately his powers of prediction are notoriously unreliable.

The ceremony of burning the snowman, or “böögg”, rounds off Zurich’s annual Sechseläuten festival, which marks the end of winter. The böögg, his head stuffed with firecrackers, is perched on top of a huge pyre. It is said that the less time it takes for his head to explode, the finer the summer will be.

This year it took exactly 35 minutes 11 seconds from the moment the pyre was lit – an unusually long time.

This contrasted with last year, when he exploded after only 12 minutes and seven seconds, promising a pleasant summer. However, he was wrong: it turned out rainy. In 2007 the national weather service, MeteoSwiss, carried out a study of his predictions over 50 years and found a correlation “close to zero”.

Earlier on Monday thousands of spectators had lined the streets of Zurich to watch the parade of some 5,000 guild members and their guests. The guests of honour included this year’s Swiss president, Ueli Maurer, army chief André Blattmann, UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti, the Egyptian investor Samih Sawiris, who is developing the resort of Andermatt, and Roger de Weck, director general of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the parent company of swissinfo.ch.

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