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Mercury rising Hot, dry weather racks up more Swiss records

A man pins up a notice forbidding fires

Open fires have been forbidden in many parts of Switzerland for fear of starting forest blazes.


July has been declared one of the ten hottest in Switzerland since records began in 1864 as the heatwave continues. Temperatures this month have also been 1.9 degrees Celsius hotter than the average July, as recorded between 1981 and 2010.

Switzerland has already seen this year the second-warmest April, the fifth-warmest May and the fourth-warmest June.

Canton Valais in western Switzerland and the southern side of the Alps have now seen the hottest July since records began, according to MeteoSwiss, the Swiss meteorological office. In the city of Sion, canton Valais, temperatures have been 3.3C hotter than normal.

Switzerland is also experiencing drought conditions. The period from the start of May to mid-July had already been declared as the driest since 1921. Now MeteoSwiss says the April-July period is the fourth-driest since 1864.

Ironically, violent thunderstorms in some regions have also seen brief spurts of record localised precipitation. The measuring centre at Magadino-Cadenazzo in the southern canton of Ticino saw a record 60mm in one hour on July 28, beating the 53.2mm from May 7, 2009.

But rainfall in general has been too sporadic and confined to small areas to make an impact.

The dry conditions have resulted in bans in almost all cantons on the use of fireworks in or near forests (only Fribourg, Geneva and Neuchâtel are currently allowing them). Ahead of Swiss National Day on August 1, many central cantons have imposed a total ban on fireworksoutdoors. They have also have forced a slowdown in the activity of the Mühleberg nuclear plant as it struggles to keep vital equipment cool.

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