Switzerland: Weather Overview
Switzerland lies in the south west of Europe, entirely land locked by Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein and is home to a climate which varies largely across the small country, a result of the topography which rises and falls across the land. The Swiss Alps affect the climate to a great deal, at the point which rise above 4000 metres there will be heavy snow cover for the entirety of the year.
Switzerland has a long history of neutrality, which has resulted in the country not being involved in a war since 1815. Though in world war two Zurich was accidentally bombed, when 12.5 tons of heavy explosives and 12 tons of incendiaries hit the capital killing seven people, it is believed that the bombs fell off target in an attempt to bomb Freiburg which lies about 300km to Zurich's north. Switzerland didn't retaliate and remained neutral and were repaired damaged by the US government. It is an accepting and intriguing country which is home to four official languages- German, French, Italian and Romansh.
When visiting Switzerland most people's first stop will be the beautiful lakeside city of Zurich, which at 377,000 people is the largest city in Switzerland and the country's main commercial and cultural centre. With a picturesque setting, beautiful architecture and a quaint feel, Zürich was named the city with the "best quality of life" in the world in both 2006 and 2007. The climate in Zurich is fairly mild, with summer highs only reaching an average maximum of 21 ºC to 24 ºC in June and August respectively. August is generally the warmest month, though minimums can still fall to 10 ºC to 11 ºC in the evenings.
Zurich lies about 30 km north of the Alps upon the north-western end of Lake Zürich. The city sits amongst wooded hills including the Gubrist, the Hönggerberg, the Käferberg, Adlisberg and the Oettlisberg. So, like the majority of Switzerland is topographic location is influential on the climate. The conditions are moderated by the winds that blow from the Atlantic and off the mountain tops. These mountain winds blow throughout the year but can see winters getting quite chilly. The average high in December and January is a mere 2 ºC or 3 ºC, while the average minimum falls to about -3 ºC or -4 ºC.
Zurich is a beautiful city with a cosmopolitan nightlife, many fantastic restaurants and cafes with a picturesque location complete with a mild climate and beautiful cobbled streets. Zurich benefits from a quaint feel whilst still having the hustle and bustle of a large city. Zurich, along with Geneva, is one of the richest cities in the world and their financial status in Global markets have lead Switzerland to being one of the worlds richest countries
Geneva in the far west of Switzerland and it's the second most populated city in Switzerland after Zurich. Geneva, like Zurich lies in an enviable location where the Rhône River exits Lake Geneva, surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountain ranges. Summers in Geneva are warm to hot and can occasionally get rather humid. Although Geneva, like the majority of Switzerland, sees changeable weather. Mornings remain relatively fresh, before the humidity picks up in the daytime. Throughout summer when rain falls it falls hard, though less frequent than in the winter months. Summer plays host to thunderstorms and occasional hail. Occasionally the summer temperatures continue into September, however the mercury will drop rapidly come November and by the end of November the winter is well and truly on its way.
Autumn in Geneva sees many mornings covered with mist, which can be quite picturesque once set against the mountain backdrop. However, at times the fog can get very intense, and vision can be restricted to less than 100 meters in areas outside the city. Winters in Geneva are cold and in general fairly cloudy. During the winter season there are one or two day's severe freezes where the barometer sees a bitterly cold −10 °C. Winters are generally not overly long though, fortunately, and the mercury begins to rise come the end of March. Spring can see heavy rainfall though and May can be particularly stormy. These storms may be short but strong storms depositing several tens of millimetres of rain over the course of a few minutes.
Nyon skyline after sunset near Geneva, Switzerland.
Berne is the country's capital and lies in the Swiss plateau, west of the centre of Switzerland and about 20km north of Alps. Around Berne the landscape was formed by glaciers in the last ice age. Berne is built on very uneven ground so there are several dozens of meters in height difference from the quarters down at the river Aar (the river) to the higher ones quarters. This means that the higher quarters are often windier and a fraction cooler than the areas that lie at lower altitude.
Switzerland is affected by the anticyclones which cross across the country and surrounding countries. Anticyclones are exactly that, the opposite of cyclones. When they cross across Switzerland they bring with them pleasant weather and clear skies. The years most settled weather occurs when the anticyclones blow, in summer they bring warm sunny weather, absent of heavy rainfall, and in winter they bring cold, sunny weather with crisp beautiful mornings. The anticyclones are more common in the winter months, meaning that winter weather can often be refreshing and amazing- albeit quite chilly. August is generally the wettest month across Switzerland, though altitude does play a factor in how much rain a region sees and precipitation is common throughout the whole year.
Oberhofen village on the lake Thun, Switzerland.