Switzerland weathers heavy rains

A construction worker was killed in a mudslide Friday in Linthal, Glarus. Keystone

Heavy rains that battered Switzerland throughout the end of the week had calmed by Sunday, but not before sparking flooding, landslides, and road and rail closures, particularly in the central parts of the country. The hazard level will remain raised through Sunday afternoon.

This content was published on May 15, 2016 - 12:34
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Swiss public radio RTS reported Sunday that it has rained as much since Friday as in the entire month of May.

Lucerne saw flooding due to 135 millimetres (over 5 inches) of rain falling within three days – a record, according to Swiss public television SRF. Other parts of the country reached up to 100-140 litres of rain per square metre (about 4-6 inches).

The most precipitation was measured in Säntis, canton Appenzell Inner Rhoden, which saw 265 mm – over 10 inches – of rain.

In central Switzerland, firefighters were on alert on Saturday to help contain floods in houses and on roads. In Bern, the weather also caused flooding in cellars and small mudslides, according to cantonal police.

Continuous rains have raised the levels of rivers and lakes in central and eastern Switzerland, and with it, the government’s weather hazard level.

The federal weather office, MeteoSwiss, set Lakes Zurich and Lucerne above the hazard level 2 on a scale of 5 – a level that is reached only every two to three years, according to private weather service MeteoNews. The hazard level for the central and eastern northern alps was set at 3.

MeteoSwiss said it would be extending all hazard warnings through Sunday afternoon, as mud and landslide risk is still high due to saturated soil.

One death was reported Friday as the result of a mudslide in Linthal, canton Glarus. Cantonal police said the person who died, a construction worker on the job at a mountain road remediation site, had been buried in a mudslide. The body was found after an intense search by firefighters and alpine rescuers, according to Swiss public television SRF.

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