Flooding, power outages and road blockages

Workers remove stones carried by violent storms in the Chateau d'Oex area Keystone

Violent weather passing over Switzerland left emergency responders extremely busy trying to keep people safe and repair all the damage through the weekend.

This content was published on July 9, 2017 - 17:56 with agencies/jmh

Heavy thunderstorms on Saturday caused flooding and power outages in ZofingenExternal link, in the northern canton of Aargau about halfway between the Swiss cities of Zurich and Bern.

No injuries were reported. Hail, storms and heavy rainfall were expected to continue into the start of the coming week.

The MeteoNewsExternal link weather service said clouds and stormy showers will remain above Switzerland on Monday, bringing strong gusts that could last until Thursday. The storms come after a heat wave that began in the middle of last week and ended on Saturday with the storms.

Parts of the major highway A1 that connects the two cities was flooded and temporarily blocked. Factories, underground garages, underpasses and cellars were all left submerged. Some rails were also under water, causing disruptions to a major route between Basel and Lucerne.

Round-the-clock assistance

An emergency call center in Zofingen received more than 400 calls for help, Swiss public television SRF reportedExternal link on Sunday. Some 250 fire and other rescue workers responded.  Even the police and court buildings were flooded. Drinking water supplies were affected; bottled water was handed out.

Video footage showed cars half-submerged in streets and water flowing into parking garages, where damaged cars were drenched and covered in mud. Some mudslides could be seen elsewhere.

Gusts of wind up to 105 kilometres per hour were measured at Interlaken, the popular tourist town in the Bernese Alps. Wind speeds nearly that high also were measured on the Uetliberg, a popular mountain overlooking Zurich, and at Würenlingen, a town known for its storage of radioactive waste that is further north in the canton of Aargau.

In French-speaking Switzerland, hailstones as large as four centimetres fell mainly along the foothills of the Jura mountains. Impressive lightning bolts lit the sky by Lake Neuchâtel around the Swiss-France border.

A deluge of rain was reported in Wynau, in the canton of Bern, and in Gösgen, home to a nuclear power plant in the canton of Solothurn, and not far from Zofingen.

Modern concerns

Heavy rains and floods have been a fairly regularly recurring problem in Switzerland in recent years, and experts say this kind of extreme weather is only set to continue in future.

Some climatologists say flooding could become more frequent in the future, based on studies showing how global warming affects weather.

More than a half-billion francs have been invested in flood defences since the major European floods of 2005, which brought chaos to central Switzerland and resulted in seven deaths in the country.

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