Switzerland has unusually cold December

There was an unusual amount of snow in the Swiss plateau in December, while the mountains were colder than they have been for decades.

This content was published on December 29, 2010 - 10:35 and agencies

Bern had more snow in a single month than in the whole of last winter, according to the national weather service MeteoSwiss on Wednesday. Geneva had never had such deep snow – 31 centimetres – in December.

The snow set in on December 1, and after a brief thaw, it returned again on December 12. The warm southern Föhn wind melted it again on December 23, when temperatures rose sharply – 13.3 degrees in the eastern city of St Gallen, for example – almost dashing hopes for a white Christmas.

But heavy snowfall practically everywhere on Christmas Eve then covered almost the whole country in white again.

The mountains were unusually cold. Temperatures four degrees lower than usual were recorded on top of the Säntis in eastern Switzerland and the Jungfraujoch in the Bernese Oberland. Such low temperatures had not been recorded on the Säntis since 1969 or on the Jungfraujoch since 1981.

The sun made only rare appearances in December: there was between only 30 and 70 per cent of normal sunshine.

Although most parts of Switzerland were colder than usual, in the valleys where the Föhn blows it was slightly warmer.   

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