Icy winds over Lake Geneva, big chill to continue

The Big Chill over Lake Geneva in 2012 - Photo, Jared Bloch
The Big Chill over Lake Geneva – Photo, Jared Bloch

GENEVA, Switzerland – Iced trees, streets and harbors, delayed and/or canceled trains, buses and boats are the result of the icy winds that have hit the Lake Geneva region these past few days — and don’t put your parka away just yet — MeteoSwiss is forecasting below-freezing temperatures for the remainder of the week. 

Icy wind warning

The Swiss Meteorological Office has issued an alert of icy winds for Canton Geneva, Nyon-Terre Sainte, Morges-Cossonay, Plaine de l’Orbe and Estavayer-Cudrefin for the next 24 hours.


Sustained winds of 40-50 km/h and gusts between 70-95 km/h hit the affected zones on 17 January, namely, Geneva with 80km/h, Nyon 94km/h, St-Prex 84km/h, Bière 89km/h, Mathod 86km/h and Neuchâtel 78km/h. The wind chill factor was between -10°C and -15°C in the area and as low as -35 in mountainous regions.

MeteoSwiss says winds will drop to 30-40km/h on Wednesday 18 January but the wind chill will remain until at least this coming weekend.

While the bise is expected to continue, the situation is not at all like in 2012, when canton Geneva experienced 12 days of sustained icy winds which created spectacular natural ice sculptures  (see photo gallery herehere and even better, here).

Caring for those living/sleeping outdoors

As temperatures drop those living on the streets are more at risk than ever. Call 144 to report someone sleeping outdoors, the line is open 24/24.

Commuting: icy roads and train tracks could mean delays

    • On 17 January, the CFF (Swiss railroad system) experienced delays with most commuters having to take regional lines between Lausanne and Geneva. Check the CFF website and/or Twitter accounts for up-to-date information.
    • The CGN system (boats over Lake Geneva) was also interrupted and/or delayed. It is expected that some services could be cancelled or delayed, check the CGN website for more information.
    • Police in canton Vaud and Geneva have asked drivers to remain vigilant after several accidents occurred between Lausanne and Geneva on 17 January causing major delays (see video of the pileup here). Both police departments have now Facebook accounts where they post up-to-date information.

The Big Chill in images

This week’s icy winds might not be as strong as those we experienced in 2012 but are still mighty. Here’s a round up of some of the best videos and images that captured the Big Chill on 17 January.

The Tribune de Genève

Of course, Instagram is also full of photos and videos, here a few snapshots starting with Léman Bleu and Citizen Big’s videos,




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