The River Simme in Wimmis, canton Bern, on Tuesday Keystone / Peter Schneider

Lakes and rivers in central Swiss cantons such as Bern and Lucerne have reached dangerous levels, and more rain is forecast for Thursday and Friday.

This content was published on July 15, 2021 – 14:56


On Wednesday authorities in canton Bern said water levels on Lake Thun, Lake Biel and in the city of Bern would significantly exceed flood limits in the coming days.

On Lake Biel it’s possible the situation will be similar to the flood of the century in 2005, with the flood level predicted to be exceeded by 25-65 centimetres.

On Thursday Lake Lucerne exceeded flood level 5, the highest level. If the water rises another 13cm, the centre of Lucerne will be flooded.

The flooded main square in Stansstad by Lake Lucerne on Thursday Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Lake Thun is expected to swell to 25-40 centimetres above the flood limit, according to the authorities. Lake Brienz is also expected to burst its banks.

On Thursday morning the River Aare in Bern reached a flow rate of 520 cubic metres per second. By comparison, during the major floods in 1999 and 2005 the Aare carried just over 600 cubic metres per second.

The River Aare in Bern’s Old Town on Wednesday Keystone / Marcel Bieri

The level of Lake Zurich also rose overnight but the situation is less critical (flood danger level 4 out of 5). Some lakeside homes risk getting flooded, the cantonal authorities said. The situation is reportedly stable in canton Valais.

Up to 100 millimetres of rain is predicted locally for Thursday and Friday; water levels will peak on Saturday.

On Thursday Guy Parmelin, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, visited Lucerne and thanked the emergency workers for their efforts and solidarity. He had previously examined the situation in Biel.

Click on lakes and rivers on the map above for the latest information about flood dangers in Switzerland.

Deaths in neighbouring Germany

At least 19 people have died in Germany and dozens were missing on Thursday as record rainfall in western Europe caused rivers to burst their banks, swept away homes and flooded cellars. In addition to eight people who died in the Euskirchen region south of the city of Bonn, another seven died elsewhere in North Rhine-Westphalia, several of them in flooded cellars, as well as two firefighters.

Further down the River Rhine, the heaviest rainfall ever measured over 24 hours caused flooding in cities including Cologne and Hagen, while in Leverkusen 400 people had to be evacuated from a hospital.

In Belgium, two men died due to torrential rain and a 15-year-old girl was missing after being swept away by a swollen river.

Downstream in the Netherlands, flooding rivers damaged many houses in the southern province of Limburg, where several care homes were evacuated.

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