What is Swiss winter weather like?
Winter in Switzerland is diverse: it may snow in the mountains while it’s mild and cloudy in the lowlands. Or it may be freezing cold everywhere. Learn all about winter season, temperatures, snow, sunshine and hazards during Swiss winters.
When is it winter in Switzerland?
The astronomical winter season in Switzerland is from December 21 to March 19. The meteorological winter season is from December 1 to February 28.
In practice, winter weather in Switzerland can occur from November to April. The snow season is mostly from January to March.
What’s the Swiss winter climate like?
Switzerland has a mild winter climate with large differences per region and altitude:
- It’s mild in the lowlands. Rain, fog and clouds are common. Snow doesn’t fall often. This goes for many larger towns such as Zurich, Geneva, Bern and Lucerne.
- In hills and valleys at medium altitude, there can be a mixture of mild weather and cold spells. Snow can occur.
- In the Alps, with towns such as St. Moritz and Zermatt, temperatures are lowest. It can freeze and chances of snow are best here.
The “Föhn” is a typically Swiss weather phenomenon. It’s a cross-alpine wind. This wind causes rain and moist on one side of the Alps, and mild dry air on the other side. If the Föhn occurs in winter, this can result in a significant local rise of temperature.
How does climate change affect Swiss winters?
Global warming is changing Switzerland’s winter weather. Cold winters (average of -4 °C / 24.8 F) are less common than before. Extremely warm winters occur more often.
Less snow falls in ski resorts at lower altitude. There’s no guarantee of snow here anymore, and this will get worse in the coming years.
The highest Swiss ski resorts will most probably remain snowy. The amount of snow might even increase there.
How cold does it get in Swiss winters?
The average overall winter temperature for Switzerland is -1.9 °C (28.6 F). This is the average of day and night temperatures, measured from 1990 to 2020. Temperatures vary per climate zone and altitude. With every 100 m (328 ft) of gaining height, the temperature drops 0.7 to 1.0 °C (1.8 F).
- In lowlands, at an altitude of 200-600 m (656-1969 ft), temperatures are often well above freezing point. This applies to many larger towns such as Zurich, Bern, Interlaken and Lucerne.
- In mountain resorts such as Mürren, temperatures around freezing point occur. During the coldest months it may freeze all day long.
- At the highest mountain tops it can freeze all year long, with temperatures around -10 °C to -15 °C (14 F to 5 F).