Stay risk informed. Be prepared.Switzerland’s multi-hazard early warning system
Gathering accurate and reliable data for weather forecasts is the first link in the chain. But reliable data is only truly effective if it is shared. Switzerland's early warning system is effective because all parties – from the local to the institutional, from the municipal to the federal level – share the data they collect within the early warning network.
They also share a common understanding: working together to protect the public.
Important, often life-saving, decisions are taken based on the data.
Today, the responsible federal agencies issue warnings for different types of natural hazards. These agencies are members of the Steering Committee Intervention in Natural Hazards, known by its German acronym LAINAT. The National Emergency Operations Centre within the Federal Office for Civil Protection disseminates warnings and forecasts from the various agencies to the affected cantons and other partners in the situation network.
Municipalities advise the population on what to do – or not to do – in case of a natural hazard. For example, vacating areas threatened by floods or abstaining from lighting fires outdoors during extreme dryness. Individuals also take important decisions to prevent loss of life and damage to property: from shutting down a mountain railway to taking a school class to a museum instead of on a hike.
A strong partnership forges the early warning chain
The Swiss government learned an important lesson: a successful early warning system depends on all actors working together and sharing information.
LAINAT promotes preparation for extraordinary natural events, coordinates the different mandates of the offices involved and manages projects on hazard preparation, warning and alerting. Through the close collaboration of six federal offices and institutes, LAINAT ensures that all actors involved in data collection, forecasting and early warning measures speak as one voice. To this purpose they also agreed on a common warning system with unified warning areas and warning levels. In case of a major event leading to natural hazards, they publish one bulletin and gather the relevant information on common platforms.
Bildmaterial: wahrscheinlich Archiv oder Spantandreh bei Frostprognosen
Five radar stations
260 gauging stations on surface waters
Head of local fire brigade
MeteoSwiss obtains satellite data from EUMETSAT, a consortium of European countries which together operate METEOSAT, and from other Earth observation satellites.
Automatic measurements and observation of snow cover
Switzerland's dense avalanche warning network, its high level of training and expertise and its management of avalanche risks were recognised as a global cultural treasure and given UNESCO intangible cultural heritage status in 2018.
170 automatic measuring stations
Manager mountain railway
Radio sounding is one of the pillars of meteorological services. Twice a day, MeteoSwiss carries out radio sounding using sounding balloons for the purpose of measuring key meteorological parameters in the atmosphere at high elevations.
Switzerland's only aerological sounding station is located at the Payerne regional centre of MeteoSwiss. Two soundings are performed here every day at midnight and 12 noon.
160 automatic monitoring stations
Forest fire danger observations and information
150 seismic monitoring stations
The reliability of the data and the app's easy-to-use features contribute to its popularity.
The measurements track weather developments in real time. One of the most-used features shows past and future precipitation distribution. Different types of weather forecasts, which cover up to eight days and are updated several times a day, allow users to plan their activities. They can also subscribe to push notifications for every locality in the country. The app displays all natural-hazard warnings. According to a representative population survey, more than 70% of the respondents use the app regularly,
Natural Hazards Portal
Climate Services in the Andes – CLIMANDES
Glacier lake outburst flows in the Yarkant river
Overview of the GIN Platform
Earthquake early warning in Central America – EWARNICA
The damaging seismic waves that an earthquake emits are preceded by P waves that travel faster but with smaller amplitude. Real-time detection and interpretation of P waves allow for an estimation of the impact of the earthquake, which is used to send a warning before the damaging waves reach the population. Effective earthquake early warning (EEW) is only possible with a dense network of real-time and reliable strong motion seismometers.
(Video animation by SRF Einstein)
City Resilience Program in Vietnam
In order to move from a flood-response approach to a proactive, coherent and multi-sectoral approach, an integrated flood-risk management and an early warning system are being developed in order to support economic investment, early warning dissemination, as well as disaster preparedness and response.