Weekend News Roundup – January 28


Too much snow: We may have not seen much snow in Luzern this weekend, but it has caused chaos in the mountains, leading to Zermatt being cut off from the rest of the world again, as well as several train routes being cut for fear of avalanches. Some villages even had to be evacuated in the Wallis. The avalanche level in some areas remains at level 5 (the highest level), hopefully things will calm down later in the week.

Too few fish: Professional fishermen on the lake of Lucerne may very soon become a thing of the past. The reason the water is too clean! Namely the phosphorus level in the water is too low. Phosphorus is essential to plant life and is often found in fertilizer and other agricultural products. Too much of it and the oxygen levels in the water diminish, too little and there is not enough plant life for fish to feed on. The fishermen are calling on governmental help to redress this issue arguing that if nothing is done, there soon will be hardly fish left in the lake. Currently there are just 2 fishermen operating in the lake of Lucerne (versus 19 in the 70s), they average yearly catches of 6.5 kilos per hectare, whereas the three fishermen on the much smaller lake of Sempach are averaging 42 kilos per hectare. The lake of Sempach has an average phosphorus level of 42 milligrams per 1000 liters, whereas the lake of Lucerne only has 5 milligrams per 1000 liters.

Luzerners take up too much room! That is the conclusion of the city, who states that in the 80s each Luzerner had an average of 36 m2 living space, whereas nowadays it is 45 m2. The city is hoping to get people to live in 36 m2 by 2035, this in order to cope with the growing population. How they set about to achieve this is as yet quite unclear.

Eight men are currently trapped in the Hölloch cave in the Muothatal. At 200 kilometres in length it is one of the longest caves in the world. The men had been on a two day expedition so luckily had bivouacs and plenty of supplies. They were trapped by rising waters, it is unclear when they will be able to be rescued.


We are currently in the throes of extreme weather, after the storms we are now in deep snow (at least in the mountains), but because the temperatures are higher than normal the snow is melting and it is raining heavily. This is having dire consequence for the country as a whole. With river banks on the verge of breaking, in many areas we are now looking at the risks of floods. The masses of snow means that the avalanche risk is at its highest. Do not go snowshoeing or cross country skiing before checking local conditions. Many ski resorts have closed their slopes as a result of the avalanche risk.

The Gotthard Tunnel is now closed in both directions until Tuesday morning at the earliest due to a land slide caused by the snow and rain. Luckily no one was injured.

The 8 amateur speleologists trapped in the Hölloch (see yesterday’s Znüni News) are still stuck there. Help was able to reach them via an alternate route, but this route is deemed much too dangerous for the trapped men to escape by. They have to wait for the water levels to recede before they can leave the caves.

The World Economic Forum 48th annual meeting is starting today and will run until the 26th of January. This is the highlight of the shakers and makers of the world, the snow has been removed from the centre of the town by trucks, the snippers and high security guards are in place and the caviar and champagne has been delivered. Much has been made of Donald Trump’s attendance but actually this year will be a who’s who of the political scene with Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel,  Justin Trudeau, Michel Temer, Benjamin Netanyahu and Theresa May amongst others also in attendance. Our own president Alain Berset will be there but has been snubbed by Jean-Claude Juncker who told him he didn’t have time to meet with him. The theme of this year’s conference is “Creating a shared future in a fractured world”. Should you wish to follow the debates and talks you can check out the WEF website for live streams here.


Things seem to be calming down weather wise. The Gotthard Tunnel was able to reopen last night and the avalanche risk is downgraded to high (number 4) in most areas of Switzerland and level 3 in our region.

Bad news though for the 8 men trapped in the Hölloch caves, they will be stuck there at least until this weekend, as the melting snow is keeping the water level high in the cave and still blocking their exit.

The youths who vandalised their refugee home have written a letter to the head of the asylum seeker‘s programme apologising for their behaviour. They explained that they were not angry because they only get CHF 3.- a day to live on, but rather because of the new infrastructure and the way they are being treated by their carers. A dialogue is now established.

Switzerland has been voted the best country in the world! US News did a survey with 21 000 participants worldwide and Switzerland came out on top as the best country to live in. Canada came in second and Germany third. The United Kingdom is 4th and America slipped to number 8. Angola and Algeria came in as the bottom two countries.

You can find out more here.



The town of Emmen is making headlines right now as they are not replacing any teacher who is sick for up to a week. This means that children are facing having no school during this time. The education board is not happy with this decision saying that constitutionally every child is entitled to a full education and that the school has the duty to provide the substitutes teachers no matter what. The school counters that due to recent budget cuts they cannot afford to pay for substitutes.

The number of asylum seekers coming to Switzerland has dropped by a third in 2017, coming in at roughly 18 000. This is leading to several temporary centres being closed down. The state is still planning for 4 large asylum centres to be built in centre Switzerland which would be able to welcome up to 5000 people.

President Trump will be landing in Zürich today and then going onto Davos where he is due to meet Prime Minister Theresa May and Israel‘s president before have a fancy dinner. Tomorrow he will be meeting with Rwanda‘s president, our own president and then giving a 1 hour speech before leaving the country in the afternoon. Total time of visit 29.5 hours. I guess he won‘t get to go skiing then.

There currently are roughly 3500 soldiers guarding Davos, presumably not just for President‘s Trump protection.



Good news for the eight men who were trapped in the Hölloch cave since last Saturday. They are now safe and sound enjoying the fresh air. The men didn‘t wish to speak to the press but now questions will need to be answered as to why they were allowed to go into the caves in the first place when the weather was so bad.

If you are late declaring your taxes in Lucerne you will as of this year have to pay a penalty of 6% (and not 5% which was the case up to now). This makes Lucerne along with Basel the most penalising city in Switzerland.

A mummie is currently making sensation in Basel. The very well preserved body was found 43 years ago in an unmarked tomb and was a mystery until recently. Thanks to DNA samples she was named as Anna Catherine Bischof who lived in the 1700s and when her family tree was put together it turned out that she has living relatives, most surprisingly her great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson is UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson.


Doing something together in Swiss German:

Hesch öppis loos?     Are you doing something now?

Ich weiss nud             I don’t know (not really)

Hesch öppis vor?       Do you have something planned?

Wotsch eis go zie?     Do you fancy a pint (of beer)?

Ei weli Beiz wotsch?   Which bar do you want to go to?







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