“We have issued the second highest level of danger” – News Panorama: Miscellaneous

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The coming winter storm “Sabine” will mix up the air traffic. For tomorrow, Sunday, Swiss has canceled all its flights to and from London, with the exception of three connections, because the storm is expected to hit the UK particularly hard on Sunday.

The flight from Zurich to Dublin and back has also been canceled. As a Swiss spokesman told the “SonntagsZeitung”, further connections could be added to, for example, northern Germany and the Benelux countries. Basically, the airline warns its customers of “impairments to the flight schedule” between Sunday afternoon and at least Tuesday morning.

Storm Petra swept through Switzerland at the beginning of the week. According to the insurers, this resulted in damage amounting to several million francs. In many places the traces have not yet been cleared – and the next storm has already been announced: strong gusts will come from the west on Monday. The national weather service Meteo Switzerland warns on Twitter of a “turbulent start to the week”.

Mr. Zgraggen, what is in store for us?

A particularly strong west wind that runs through our country with a cold front.

What does “particularly strong” mean?

We expect wind speeds of 90 to 120 kilometers per hour in the lowlands, and about 130 to 140 kilometers per hour in higher wind-exposed areas. On some pre-Alpine peaks on the north side, it can even be up to 200 kilometers per hour. We have therefore issued hazard level 4, the second highest.

And that means?

Not only can individual trees fall over, whole forest sections can also break. It becomes critical for people who are not good on foot, older or small children. Because from around 140 kilometers per hour you have to brace yourself against the wind to avoid being blown over. From around 170 kilometers per hour, it is usually hardly possible to keep your balance.

Are there regions that will be particularly affected?

In the Jura it gets quite violent at an altitude above 1300 to 1600 meters, for example on the Chasseral. Generally, however, it affects the entire north side of the Alps. The storm is less noticeable in the Valais and Graubünden.

When exactly can the storm be expected?

It starts shortly after midnight and then increases in intensity. There will be a real storm from around 6 a.m., the strongest phase comes around 9 a.m., 10 a.m. The worst should be over by noon. But watch out: The showers continue, there can be gusts at any time. In the night of Tuesday there is a second phase, which should be weaker.

At the end of January we had storm Lolita, Petra this week and now the next one is coming. Is this cluster a coincidence?

Yes. It is of course not the same every year. But we always had several strong west storms in a row. For example, in the 90s, when they came almost every week. Once such a western location has established itself, it can be very stupid.

Do we have to prepare for more such extreme events in the long term?

This is difficult. I am a meteorologist and cannot judge that. Even among climatologists, opinions differ on this issue.

Do you see a connection with the particularly violent hurricanes and typhoons last summer?

Of course, everything is somehow connected to the global weather. But I cannot see a direct impact of those tropical storms on what we are experiencing here.

How long can a storm season last for us?

The strong west winds usually begin in autumn and last until around the end of March. Hair dryer storms can also occur more often until the end of April. The most violent, large-scale storms are always in the winter half-year, be they west storms, foehn storms or Bisen storms. Locally, however, summer thunderstorms or very rarely even tornadoes can be extremely violent and dangerous. We should remember the tornado of August 26, 1971 in the Vallée de Joux, which had devastating effects there.

How do you protect yourself from a violent storm?

Common sense protects best. Avoid the forest and individual, free-standing trees. Keep away from wooden poles and scaffolding, never go on the water, do not stand under tiled roofs – things like that. And clear everything from the garden or balcony.

Sports vacations are in many places. Should you avoid the slopes on Monday?

I would advise this, at least in the winter sports areas on the north side of the Alps. Most of all, I would avoid cable cars and gondolas. It can be dangerous there.

Has the coming storm already got a name?

This is the Sabine.

Who awards them?

The Institute for Meteorology at the Free University of Berlin. There you can purchase sponsorships for low and high pressure areas for around 260 euros.

One year the storms have female names, the other male. Which are worse?

Of course, this is completely random. Sturm Lothar on December 26, 1999 had a male name and was extremely destructive. He threw 11 million cubic meters of wood on the ground throughout Switzerland. The Vivian storm of February 27, 1990, on the other hand, had a female name, but this storm was also catastrophic, at least for the Alpine regions: in the Disentis region, on the Urner Boden or Schwanden GL, entire protective forests were totally destroyed within a few minutes. Some people in the hard-hit regions will not forget this terrible storm for life – including me.

Will there still be snow in the lowlands in the foreseeable future?

This does not look good. Maybe a few flakes will come on Saturday, but the hope is small. After that, a high-pressure phase will very likely begin again.

Created: 02-08-2020, 04:27 PM


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