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Thunder and lightning Powerful storms batter Switzerland

lightning bolt over the city of Bern

Lightning striking over the city of Bern earlier this week.

(Keystone)

Lightning, hail, and torrential rain beat down over many parts of Switzerland on Wednesday night. So far, images of flooding and giant hail have been more striking than the damage.

The storms broke out almost simultaneously across the country on Wednesday evening, though western regions including the capital of Bern saw the most impressive effects.

Huge hail in central Switzerland.

(SRF-SWI)

In the town of Thun, locals reported seeing hailstones the size of walnuts falling. The hail was followed by torrential rain and flooding. In just a few minutes, local emergency services received more than 50 calls about flooded basements and rivers bursting their banks.

Traffic on some motorways slowed almost to a crawl as flooded tunnels and bad visibility led to jams and diversions. Some railway lines were also inundated overnight and remained closed Thursday morning.

Erratic weather

The storms, which have been brewing all week, come at the end of a volatile month of May that began with frost and ended with stifling heat: the final week of the month saw temperatures climb to more than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) across the country.

According to the Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology, the spring of 2017 has overall been the third hottest in Switzerland since record keeping began in 1864. The national average temperature has been 1.7 degrees Celsius higher than during the period from 1981 to 2010.

storms CH

A car drives through a flood in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland

Heavy hail and flooding made for difficult driving conditions in western Switzerland. (RTS)


swissinfo.ch and agencies/dos

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