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Climate and Weather

Switzerland - Climate and Weather

Switzerland is every tourist’s dream. There is enough snow in the mountains for winter sports lovers and enough sun to give your skin a healthy glow in the summer. The weather can be quite moody though and may vary depending on altitude and location. The top two essentials to have are a raincoat and sunglasses!

Seasons are easy to distinguish. Winters are snowy, summers can be quite warm and humid, autumns are relatively dry and cool and in spring all nature comes to life. Temperatures can vary from -20°C /-4°F to about 7°C/45°F in winters and 10°C/ 50° F to 35°C/ 95° F in the summer. In some places however, located high in the mountains, the temperatures may never rise above 0° C. The average amount of sunshine per year is approximately 1700 hours and rainfalls vary depending on the area of the country from 700mm to 3000mm per year. Most of the year the climate is humid, leaving autumn as the only dry season. Swiss humidity is considered to be one of the bad sides of this unique climate. The other might be the weather phenomenon called "föhn". It is a dry wind that blows from both the north to the south side of the Alps and from the south to the north. It brings warm air and a slight humidity. The föhn can happen at any time during the year, however it is most likely to happen between autumn and spring. Locals say that föhn can cause headaches and uneasy feelings.

Switzerland has a temperate climate, typical for its location in Europe. The exceptions are areas situated high in the Alps, which are covered in snow all year round. The weather differs in some parts of the country thanks to the mountain chain, which forms a division between the northern and southern parts of the country. This causes various weather nuances due to air circulation - for example, while in one part it is dry and windy, in the other it might be raining at the same time. The Atlantic Ocean casts a big influence on the climate, bringing a delicate cooling breeze in the summer and warming winds in the winter. What is interesting is that the weather is often described as unexpected, with sudden snow showers in spring or sunny heat in autumn and winter. With the global climate change, these anomalies are even more frequent.

The country is situated in the centre of the European continent and doesn’t have any significant natural disasters. However one of the most infamous and strong central European earthquakes took place in the XIV century in Basel. The disaster took the lives of around three hundred people and destroyed most of the local architecture, including houses, churches and cathedrals. Since then, earthquakes are very common in Switzerland. They happen almost every year but their impact is small and usually they do not cause any damage. The power of the earthquakes is 3-4 degrees on the Richter scale.

With clothing, think of variety and layering. Just as in the surrounding countries, people in Switzerland like to dress stylishly, but also love comfort and casual wear. In the big cities like Zurich or Geneva, fashion is sophisticated and elegant. Most of the big fashion brands have their boutiques located in Swiss cities and ski resorts. In the smaller areas and during typical leisure activities, comfort is the priority. In the spring/summer seasons, prepare for a sunny day, but also keep in mind the possibility of rain and humidity. Never forget sunscreen and sunglasses, wear comfortable shoes and breathable fabrics. In fall/winter, expect snow and cold wind, but also rain and burning sun, especially if you’re at high altitudes. Waterproof shoes and a jacket are a must. If you’re going into the mountains, be aware that the weather might change very fast. Layering from jeans or comfortable pants and a t-shirt to a sweater and a raincoat might be a smart choice, even in the summer. The same thing will do if you plan to spend your whole day outdoors. If you’re still in doubt, choose an outfit that’s clean, simple and comfortable.

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