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Minor showers fail to halt impact of drought

Switzerland continues to suffer under the impact of weeks of low rainfull, despite some minor showers in western Switzerland on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The private weather service, Meteonews, said the quantities were not enough to make up for the shortfall since the beginning of the year, but that they had “halted the progress of the drought regionally”.

Sunday’s SonntagsZeitung newspaper quoted an expert from the Swiss weather service, Meteo Swiss, who said only one third of average precipitation had fallen this year so far.

The paper said low water in the Rhine meant that it was too shallow for fully laden barges. This has put up transport costs. Fuel is one of the items whose price could be affected in Switzerland, it warned

Run-of-river power stations – which use water flow to generate electricity – are also affected. The stations on the Aare, for example, have produced 25 per cent less power than normal in the first quarter, the paper reported.  

An official of the farmers' union told the paper that the grain harvest could be 20 per cent down if the drought continues, and said there was beginning to be a shortage of pasture for livestock.

Most cantons have put out fire warnings; some have banned the lighting of fires outdoors.

Nevertheless, some forest fires have broken out. It took 60 firefighters and three helicopters to extinguish a fire above Celerina in the south eastern canton of Graubünden on Friday. The suspected cause was a match or cigarette thrown out of a gondola on the cableway that passes over the forest.  

Next week’s Meteo Swiss forecast is for continuing sunshine, with some showers and isolated thunderstorms, mainly in the mountains. and agencies


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