Flood warning due to glacial-lake drainage in Lenk (Bern)

Since yesterday (July 10, 2022), a glacial lake in the Bern-region of Switzerland has begun to drain.
This glacial lake is at the base of the Plaine-Morte glacier, just south of Lenk.

The lake is located at the far end of the Simmental (Simmen Valley). The glacial lakes on the Plaine Morte glacier have kept the authorities on their toes for several years. Above all, the so-called Favergesee in the border area of the cantons of Bern and Valais causes problems. This lake formed due to ice retreat on the southeastern edge of the Plaine Morte Glacier.

This glacier is a special one, as it’s location is rather unusual: it has the potential to drain on both sides.
The Favergesee is the small lake in the big circle on the lower edge of the picture. The red lines are ski lifts from Crans Montana onto the glacier. As you can see, the glacier can drain both north and south from the mountains, provided the water levels are high enough in the lake.

Due to glacial melt and the fact that the draining system was covered in snow in the winter of 2019/2020 has caused the drainage to stop since summer 2020. As the water level rises, it starts flowing towards the north through an ice channel.

An official warning for hikers has been given, to carefully follow instructions. The outflow is now moderate and under control, but high and strong. With high temperatures in the region, increasing to extreme temperatures towards the weekend, more excessive melt is to be (widely) expected.

Hence, be careful when you go out hiking in the Simmental in Switzerland and stay informed about the situation.

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