Adieu 162: Switzerland to retire telephone weather service from Monday

If you're still dialling 162 to get the weather forecast, there are some clouds on the horizon.

A rotary phone in a red telephone box
Calling 162 will no longer get you the weather report, from November 1st onwards. Photo by Antoine Barrès on Unsplash

Dialing 162 on the phone to hear the latest weather forecast — the service that has been in use for 30 years —  will no longer be possible from November 1st.

Due to lack of interest, Switzerland’s official weather service, MeteoSchweiz, has decided to discontinue its telephone service.

In an update on the MeteoSchweiz website, the agency confirmed the number would be given a “well-deserved retirement”. 

“With the increasing popularity of alternative information channels such as the MeteoSwiss website and the MeteoSwiss app, the use of 162 has been declining for a long time. The current usage figures and comparatively high operating costs led to the decision to discontinue the number 162 at the end of this month.”

To be maintained, three-digit phone numbers must be used by a large audience, at least several million per year.

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But in 2020, barely 350,000 calls were received on the automated service — down from about 7 million in the early 2000s.

One of the main reasons for the drop in callers is the ease of getting weather forecasts on smartphones or online.

Those who want to make sure they continue to get their info directly from MeteoSchweiz can still do so relatively easily however, as the website and app provide up to date coverage of the latest weather in cities towns and villages all across Switzerland. 

The weather is available in English, as well as in each of Switzerland’s national languages. 

Short numbers themselves are set to be phased out over the coming 14 months, with the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) ruling that all (except emergency numbers) will be phased out by the 1st of January 2023. 

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Rain and gale-force winds: Storms continue to whip Switzerland

After a relatively calm weekend in many parts of the country, the storm ‘Antonia’ hit Switzerland on Sunday and will continue into Monday night at least.

Rain and gale-force winds: Storms continue to whip Switzerland

Antonia depression swept through Switzerland overnight, bringing rain and strong gusts of wind, measured at nearly 100 kilometres per hour over a large part of the country, including Zurich.

In some regions, like Chasseral in canton Bern, winds were even stronger: a gust of 164 km/h was measured on Monday morning, and the gusts reached a peak of 147 km / h at Säntis, Appenzell Innerrhoden.

The degree of danger is 3 out of 5, which corresponds to a “marked risk” — that is, “weather events with an intensity at the limit of the norm for the season”, according to the Natural Hazards Portal.

This colour coded map shows the degree of dangers in Switzerland: yellow means moderate danger, orange considerable danger, and red high danger.

Image by Natural Hazards Portal

This is what you should be aware of

Natural Hazards Portal is warning the population to stay away from the shores of lakes, groups of trees exposed to the wind forest roads and tree-lined paths, as well as other areas exposed to the wind.

While the intensity of rain and winds is expected to subside by the evening, some dangers may remain over the next few days.

Between 30 to 60 centimetres of fresh snow is forecast over much of the mountains between Monday and Tuesday morning. In some parts of the Alps, the snowline is dropping from the altitude of 1,200 to about 700 metres.

While this is good news for skiers, dangers abound as well.

Stormy winds are causing increasingly large snowdrift accumulations, which can come off  easily, causing avalanches, according to the Institute for the Study of Snow. The avalanche danger is particularly high in Valais.