Monthly weather forecast and climate

Flag of Switzerland
Flag of Switzerland

The climate of Switzerland

Switzerland has a mostly continental climate that varies significantly by location and altitude. Much of the Central Plateau has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb). A significant section in the north exhibits an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). A small area in the south-central region enjoys a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa). The foothills of the Alps are subarctic (Köppen Dfc), with cool summers and cold winters. The climate above the tree line in the Alps is alpine (Köppen ET). Switzerland is a landlocked country in Western, Central, and Southern Europe. Austria and Lichtenstein are in the east, Italy lies in the south, France in the west, and Germany in the north. The temperate latitudes and the Alps chiefly influence the climate.

Switzerland lies between 45°N and 47°N of the equator. The country is mostly hilly and mountainous, with elevations ranging from 193 meters to 4634 meters. The Swiss Plateau or the Central Plateau in the north, the Jura Mountains in the northwest, and the Alps in the south form the three major geographical regions. The Alps cover 60% of the country's total area. Forty-eight mountain peaks are more than 4000 meters high. The Swiss Plateau has west to east orientation and consists of rolling hills, pastures, forests, and lakes. Switzerland has over 1500 lakes, which, along with glaciers, constitute 6% of the total area. Dufourspitze, a mountain peak of Monte Rosa, is the highest point in Switzerland at 4634 meters above sea level. Lake Maggiore is the lowest point at 193 meters. The longest river is the Rhine, with a length of 234 miles. Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland.

Summers are cool to warm and humid in Switzerland based on region and altitude. Temperatures above 30°C (86°F) are possible but last for brief periods in the summer.
Summer is rainier than the winter. Winters are cold and less humid. The temperatures are freezing between December and March. On the Plateau, the average temperature is 8.9°C (48°F). The Jura and the Alps are snowy and frigid in the cold season. Spring occasionally sees snowfall in the Central Plateau, while the Alps receive snow, even in early summer. The weather is generally unstable, varies from year to year, and the climate has no strictly predictable periods. The Fohn winds occur throughout the year and bring warmth with them. The cold Bise winds occur mostly in winter and spring and blow from the north-east. The High Alps and the southernmost canton of Ticino have the wettest conditions in the country.

The annual rainfall in Switzerland is in ample in the range of 812.8mm (32") to 2387.6mm (94"). Rainfall is throughout the year. Summer is the wettest season of the year. Late autumn to early spring receives the least amount of rain. The average precipitation on the Central Plateau is between 812.8mm (32") and 1320.8mm (52"). The Jura and the Alps foothills receive between 1219.2mm (48") and 1625.6mm (64"), while the High Alps get up to 2489.2mm (98"). Snowfall ranges between 508mm (20") to 1524mm (60") on the Plateau and foothills. The High Alps and the Jura mountains receive an average of 2540mm (100") to 5080mm (200") of snow. The highest annual snowfall amounts go up to 9779mm (385") in Weissfluhjoch and 11125.2mm (438") in Santis. The annual sunshine is moderate and ranges between 1400 hours to 2000 hours. Zurich receives only 1566 hours of sunshine annually, while Bern registers 1682 hours. The average annual humidity is in the comfortable range of 66% to 80% in Switzerland.

The highest temperature on record in Switzerland is 41.5°C (106.7°F) in Grono, Moesa District, set on August 11, 2003. The lowest temperature on record is -41.8°C (-43.2°F) in La Brevine, set on January 12, 1987.

The best time to visit Switzerland

The best time to visit Switzerland is from May to September. The temperatures are mild to warm, and the landscape is free from snow. Late spring has moderate temperatures and sees an increase in sunshine. The High Alps is a popular tourist destination in the summer. Some resorts are open for skiing, even in June. The best time to explore the mountains is from June to August. Summer temperatures are in the pleasant range of 10°C (50°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F) on the Central Plateau. The rainfall begins to decrease by early autumn in September, which has mild to warm temperatures.

The worst time to visit Switzerland

The worst time to visit Switzerland is in the cold winter season from December to February. The Central Plateau registers freezing temperatures and receives significant snowfall. The mountains receive heavy snowfall, and even the day temperatures register below freezing. The sunshine is weak in the winter and hardly lasts above 2 hours every day. The days are short, and the conditions quickly become cold and dark after sunset. February is ideal for skiing in the winter, with relatively long days and plenty of snow. The sunshine is better than the peak of the winter season.

Weather hazards

Switzerland routinely faces natural weather hazards, such as floods, landslides, rock falls, avalanches, and storms. Earthquakes are rare but pose a non-zero risk. Forest fires occasionally occur in the summer. Floods are a danger during the spring and summer. The melting of snow in the spring sees a significant rise in water levels in streams and rivers. The average damage due to floods, debris flows, and fall processes between 1972 and 2017 was $330 million per year. The flood of August 2005 alone accounted for $3.26 billion in damages. Thunderstorms occur in the summer, especially in the high mountains. Blizzards occur regularly in the winter in the high mountains.

Weather in January

January is usually the coldest month of the year in Switzerland. Bern, the capital, in the Central Plateau, sees freezing nights, with average temperatures in the -3.9°C (25°F) to 2.8°C (37°F) range. Zurich at 400 meters above sea level is cold between -2.2°C (28°F) and 2.8°C (37°F). Weather in January »

Weather in February

February is cold and snowy in Switzerland. The snowline is low on the northern side of the Alps, which brings abundant snowfall in Switzerland. In Davos, in the east, average temperatures are in the frigid zone of -9.4°C (15.1°F) to 1.1°C (34°F). Weather in February »

Weather in March

March is cold in Switzerland, as the winter holds sway over the landscape. The days are cold and dull, even though the daily sunshine lasts up to 4 hours in early spring. March has overcast skies up to 57% of the time. Zurich is gloomy, with average temperatures in the range of 2.2°C (36°F) to 10°C (50°F). Weather in March »

Weather in April

April is mild to cold as the spring season unfurls in Switzerland. The days are mild and the nights are above freezing in most regions except for the mountains. Snowfall is mostly absent on the Plateau but is ample in the mountains. Weather in April »

Weather in May

May brings warm and comfortable weather in the late spring season in Switzerland. The landscape is beautiful due to the blooming flowers and melting of snow. The average high temperatures are in the warm range of 10°C (50°F) to 21.1°C (70°F). Weather in May »

Weather in June

June is the beginning of the beautiful summer season in Switzerland. The average temperatures range between 12.2°C (54°F) to 23.3°C (73.9°F) in Geneva and 11.7°C (53.1°F) to 24.4°C (75.9°F) in Sion in the west. Basel in the central region is between 12.2°C (54°F) and 22.8°C (73°F), while Engelberg is in the 8.3°C (46.9°F) to 18.3°C (64.9°F) zone. In the east, Davos has mild temperatures in the 5°C (41°F) to 15.6°C (60.1°F) range. Weather in June »

Weather in July

July is the sunniest and warmest month of the year in Switzerland. The daily sunshine is the highest in the west at 8 hours in Geneva, Lausanne, and Sion. In the east, Lugano receives 8 hours of sunlight amid 154.9mm (6.1") of rainfall. Weather in July »

Weather in August

August is warm and bright in Switzerland, with the average high temperatures in the 17.2°C (63°F) to 23.9°C (75°F) range. Nights are cool to mild in the zone of 8.3°C (46.9°F) to 17.2°C (63°F). In the southeast, Lugano sees at least 10 wet days that bring an average of 160mm (6.3") of rain. The average temperatures in the southeast are in a comfortable range of 17.2°C (63°F) to 26.1°C (79°F). Weather in August »

Weather in September

September is mild to warm in the autumn in Switzerland. The average high temperatures are in the comfortable range of 12.8°C (55°F) to 21.1°C (70°F). Night temperatures are mild to cold and register in the 4.4°C (39.9°F) to 10°C (50°F) zone. Weather in September »

Weather in October

October witnesses the peak of the fall foliage in Switzerland. Brilliant shades cover the landscape. The days are mild to cool, but nights are cold. Geneva registers average temperatures between 7.2°C (45°F) and 15.6°C (60.1°F). Weather in October »

Weather in November

November is cold in Switzerland, as the precipitation ranges between 76.2mm (3") to 177.8mm (7") in the country. The average temperatures fall rapidly and register in the cold range of -3.9°C (25°F) to 8.9°C (48°F). The precipitation reduces significantly to measure between 50.8mm (2") and 88.9mm (3.5") in most regions. Weather in November »

Weather in December

December is the beginning of the cold and snowy winter in Switzerland. The average low temperatures are in the -14.4°C (6.1°F) to -0.6°C (30.9°F), while the average high temperatures are in the -8.9°C (16°F) to 5.6°C (42.1°F) zone. Weather in December »


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