Zurich - Location and climate

General information about the city

Zurich is located on the Swiss Plateau at the northern end of Lake Zurich. With more than 410,000 inhabitants, Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. Two rivers, Limmat and Sihl flow through the urban area from south to Northwest. The climate is temperate Winds from the west often bring precipitation, and the so-called Bise, a local easterly wind systems brings cooler and dry air from east to northeast. The alpine foehn does seldom affect the city.

Live data

Measurement data are raw values. Temperature and precipitation data may be influenced by buildings and other infrastructure. Data on this website are © meteoblue.com.

Climate of the city

The average annual temperature in Zurich is 9.4°C. The average annual precipitation is 1136 mm, with almost half volume falling between May August in the form of mostly convective precipitation. In Zurich, an average of 88 frost days (Tmin < 0°C) and 26 ice days (Tmax < 0°C) can be expected, although this frequency has lowered in recent years. There are on average 30 summer days (Tmax > 25°C) and 3 heat days (Tmax > 30°C) per year. However, these measurements are typically not representative of the entire city area, since the official measurement station for Zurich is located on the slope of the Zurichberg, about 150 m above the city centre. The recent "Masterplan Stadtklima" of the City of Zurich documents 10 - 20 heat days per year, and this number can be expected to further increase in the future. A substantial variation of temperatures across years, the Zurich city area and its surroundings underlines the importance of small-scale air temperature measurements within the city. The highest air temperature ever measured in the city of Zurich was 37.7°C, recorded in July 1947. As heat waves and heat days will occur more frequently in the future due to climate change, climatic adaptation measures will have to be given greater consideration in urban planning.

Topography of the city and land surfaces

The urban climate in Zurich is influenced by various factors. Cold air flows into the city from the slopes of the surrounding hills at nighttime and substantially cools down suburban areas at the foot of the hills. For example, cold air masses coming from the slope of the Uetliberg flow into the direction of the Zurich city centre. Cold air inflow is especially effective in green areas and parks. These areas are numerous and distributed over the entire city (for example Rieterpark, Platzspitz, Seepromenade, and Bäckeranlage). Small parks can be found even in the densely built-up centre. Conversely, large areas north of the city centre are covered by railway tracks. These sealed surfaces lead to additional heating and form local heat islands. The city of Zurich is surrounded by a large area of woodland in the west (Uetiberg), north (Käferberg and Hönggerberg) and east (Zurichberg and Adlisberg). Those areas are higher than the city centre and typically 2-5 degrees cooler. The lake of Zurich in the south of the city area also contributes to cooling of suburban areas in the summertime. However, the urban development of new areals, such as in the centre of Zurich, in the Limmat valley, and in the direction of Oerlikon, increases the city's susceptibility to heat waves.

Local climate zone

What is a Local Climate Zone (LCZ)?

LCZ are a means to classify surface types that affect the local climate differently. 10 LCZ types (“1-10”) describe built-up areas in terms of building types and spatial arrangements, materials, human activities, plants, ground surface properties, etc. 7 more types (“A-G”) describe land cover in terms of plant cover and ground surface properties. The definitions of LCZ were introduced in Stewart, I.D. and Oke, T.R. 2012. Local Climate Zones for urban temperature studies. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 93: 1879-1900.

Local climate zone description

1. Compact high-rise:

LCZ 1 is characterized by a dense mix of tall buildings (more than 10 floors) with concrete, steel, stone and glass construction materials. There is little or no vegetation and the surfaces are mostly paved.

2. Compact midrise:

LCZ 2 is characterized by a dense mix of midrise buildings (3-9 floors) with concrete, steel, stone and glass construction materials. There is little or no vegetation and the surfaces are mostly paved.

3. Compact low-rise:

LCZ 3 is characterized by a dense mix of low-rise buildings (1-3 floors) with concrete, steel, stone and glass construction materials. There is little or no vegetation and the surfaces are mostly paved.

4. Open high-rise:

LCZ 4 is characterized by an open arrangement of tall buildings (more than 10 floors) with concrete, steel, stone and glass construction materials. Low plants and scattered trees create a permeable landcover.

5. Open midrise:

LCZ 5 is characterized by an open arrangement of midrise buildings (3-9 floors) with concrete, steel, stone and glass construction materials. Low plants and scattered trees create a permeable landcover.

6. Open low-rise:

LCZ 6 is characterized by an open arrangement of low-rise buildings (1-3 floors) with concrete, steel, stone and glass construction materials. Low plants and scattered trees create a permeable landcover.

7. Lightweight low-rise:

LCZ 7 is characterized by a dense mix of single-story buildings with lightweight construction materials like wood, thatch and corrugated metal. There is little or no vegetation and the surface is mostly hard-packed.

8. Large low-rise:

LCZ 8 is characterized by an open arrangement of large low-rise buildings (1-3 floors) with concrete, steel, stone and metal construction materials. There is little or no vegetation and the surface is mostly paved.

9. Sparsely built:

LCZ 9 is characterized by a sparse arrangement of small or medium-sized buildings in a natural setting. Low plants and scattered trees create a permeable landcover.

10. Heavy industry:

LCZ 10 is characterized by low-rise and midrise industrial structures like towers, tanks and stacks with metal, steel and concrete construction materials. There is little or no vegetation and the surface is mostly paved or hard-packed.

A. Dense trees:

LCZ A is characterized by deciduous and/or evergreen tree. It is a heavily wooded landscape and the landcover is mostly permeable. The zone functions as natural forest, tree cultivation or urban park.

B. Scattered trees:

LCZ B is characterized by deciduous and/or evergreen tree. It is a lightly wooded landscape and the landcover is mostly permeable. The zone functions as natural forest, tree cultivation or urban park.

C. Bush, scrub:

LCZ C is characterized by an open arrangement of bushes, shrubs and short, woody trees. the landcover is mostly permeable with bare soil or sand. The zone functions as natural scrubland or agriculture.

D. Low plants:

LCZ D is characterized by a featureless landscape of grass or herbaceous plants or crops. There is little or no trees. The zone functions as natural grassland, agriculture, or urban park.

E. Bare rock or paved:

LCZ E is characterized by a featureless landscape of rock or paved cover. There is little or no vegetation. The zone functions as natural desert (rock) or urban transportation.

F. Bare soil or sand:

LCZ F is characterized by a featureless landscape of soil or sand cover. There is often little or no vegetation. The zone functions as natural desert or agriculture.

G. Water

LCZ G is characterized by large, open water bodies such as seas and lakes, or small bodies such as rivers, reservoirs, and lagoons.

Meteorological diagrams

5-day meteogram

Our 5-day meteogram for Zurich offers all weather information in 3 simple graphs:

  • Температурна таблица с метеорологични пиктограми. Периода от изгрева до залеза е обозначен със светло жълто.
  • Облачност на различна височина: от лека облачност (светло сиво) до плътна облачност (тъмно сиво). Тъмно сините барове представят почасовите колечества валежи а светло сините възможните валежи. Със звездичка са означени снеговалежи.
  • Прогнозите за скорост на вятъра са обозначени в синьо, а за пориви на вятъра в зелено. Стелката обозначава посоката на вятъра.
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Historical weather information

Tropical nights, summer and heat days are good indicators to classify heat and possible heat stress during summer:

  • Summer day (orange): summer days are classified as days with a maximum daily air temperature of more than 25 degrees. Summer days can cause heat stress especially among elderly and sick people.
  • Heat day (red): heat days are classified as days with a maximum daily air temperature of more than 30 degrees. Heat days can cause severe heat stress for most people.
  • Tropical night (blue): tropical nights are classified as nights (from 6 pm to 6 am) where the minimum air temperature does not drop below 20 degrees. Tropical nights can cause severe heat stress due to insufficient recuperation at night.

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