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Weather luck. Switzerland hardly misses the flood

After two months of rain there are areas with wet feet, for example near Filzbach near the Linth Canal. This also shows how dry the soil is.

Corner stone

The soils in central and eastern Switzerland are waterlogged. The rain stopped just in time. Even a snow-poor winter turned out to be a stroke of luck. Not much would have been missed by the flood.

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  • Water levels in central and eastern Switzerland are high and the soil is saturated with water.
  • Precipitation in this region ends in good time: heavy rains would have caused floods.
  • Less snow in winter means no flooding, despite the heavy rains since March.

It rains almost every day. for weeks. A snowless winter seems far away. Because the Swiss water level is now rising. The first flood warnings have been issued locally, but so far nothing has happened.

When asked by Blue News, the Federal Office for the Environment in Paavo confirmed: “The water levels in rivers and lakes are currently higher, especially in central and eastern Switzerland. Very little rain is expected in these areas over the next few days. So the levels of rivers and lakes can drop.”

But hydrologists in the federal government also maintain that the soil is saturated with water. The warning of a flood to the sentinel, which was soon lifted, is witnessed by the River Thor, which has partly blown its banks.

Central and eastern Switzerland does not lack much

In fact, according to the Baavo region, heavy rainfall in central and eastern Switzerland will lead to critical flooding more quickly. “But if the weather is right, it can quickly calm down again. In the spring, the vegetation needs a lot of water and the soil can dry out quickly. This is not the case in the fall or winter.”

In Ticino, water levels remain below the long-term average. “More precipitation will not cause any harm there,” Paavo continued. There, too, the exact weather required is announced.

Another circumstance helps Switzerland: the small amount of snow in winter means that meltwater fills water bodies. This too could be the last straw.

Fortunately, there was little snow in the winter

This was the case in 2013, as the Bafu report explains. At that time, the spring brought the same amount of rain as in 2023. But because the precipitation decreased by 50 to 80 percent in the winter, there were floods in various water bodies.

Not even snowfalls above 2,000 meters in the past few weeks change that. In the past seven days alone, up to 80 cm of snow has fallen in the higher parts of the Alps. But Bafu also gives it all here.

Amount of fresh snow in the past 7 days: The Snow and Avalanche Research Institute (SLF) reports up to 80 cm.
Amount of fresh snow in the past 7 days: The Snow and Avalanche Research Institute (SLF) reports up to 80 cm.

SLF, Swisstopo

Although snow amounts increased at high elevations, snowmelt continued at medium elevations. Snow amounts in the Alps are still below average. In this regard, we have neither a special situation nor an increased preparedness for floods.

So Switzerland is lucky in three ways: The rain stops at its highest levels: in central and eastern Switzerland. The next few days it will be wet where the ground needs more rain: in Ticino. The little snow cover in winter is a stroke of luck from today’s perspective. A winter like two years later in the spring of 2023 was likely to lead to flooding.

Finally, it should be noted that the whole of Switzerland was in dire need of rain after a dry winter.