Flood of the century in Geneva, Switzerland as 5 out of 8 bridges over the Arve River are closed – Traffic chaos ahead


Heavy rains of the past days have caused the level of the Arve river to rise to dangerous levels. The water flow has exceeded the highest value recorded in 1904. Five of the eight bridges spanning the Arve are completely closed. The peak should be reached in the morning. This is amazing… I still remember swimming and kayaking in this same river!

Floods Geneva Arve River
Floods of the Century in Geneva as Arve River closes down 5 bridges in the city center and creates traffic chaos. Photo by LUCIEN FORTUNATI via TdG

Traffic will be disrupted in the Geneva today, as five of the eight bridges spanning the Arve are closed, not only to cars but to pedestrians and public transports as well. Only the bridges of Sierne (below Veyrier), Saint-Georges (below the Bois de la Bâtie) and Hans-Wilsdorf (between the Vernets ice rink and the RTS tower) remain open.

The closed structures are as follows: Vessy, Val d’Arve, Fontenette, Carouge and Acacias (the last two usually accommodate public transportation, which have been cancelled). None of these bridges will be reopened before noon.

The Arve has practically reached the sidewalk

Normally about 2-3 meters below the level of the road, the water was just three centimeters from the pavement around 8:15 a.m. near Uni Mail in the city center. Protective barriers and wooden plates have been installed to protect from overflowing.

It’s the flood of the century,” explained the first lieutenant of the Fire and Rescue Service (SIS) Nicolas Millot at 5:15 a.m. “At 4:30 a.m. in Reignier, the flow reached 1210 cubic meters per second. The time difference with Geneva is one and a half hours.

This is where the Arve and the Rhone rivers meet in Geneva:

It normally looks like that:

How do I know that? I used to kayak and swim a lot in these waters when I was a teenager!

According to data from the Federal Office for the Environment, the flow of the Arve rose to 956 m3/s at 5:30 a.m. This is the highest value since measurements began in 1904. In Geneva, the peak was being reached around 8:30 a.m..

The SIS officer pointed out that since 1904, the flow of the Arve had only exceeded 800 cubic meters per second five times. “The last time was in 2015, and we reached 915 m3/s.

Fear for bridges

More than an overflow, firefighters fear for the stability of the structures being hit by the raging water. “And you have to see the trunks coming down…” adds Nicolas Millot.

The closing of the bridges is based on their solidity, in other words on their capacity to resist shocks. The firefighter recalled that in 2015, the year of the previous flood, huge granite blocks used for the construction of the Léman Express had been swept away by the floods and had never been found again. “From the Carouge bridge, the Arve is in a straight line and nothing slows down the objects it carries, which gain a lot of speed.

The situation is expected to worsen in the short term, with higher temperatures accelerating the melting of snow between 1,500 and 2,500 metres and, consequently, increasing flows in the rivers.

As a result, “exceptional flows from the Arve” are expected, municipal authorities warned, calling on the population to “exercise extreme caution.”

Could this flooding of the century be linked to today’s visit of Macron in Switzerland… It could be indeed…

The flood has not yet caused any human casualties. All the homeless people sleeping along the banks had already been evacuated on Tuesday evening. [20min, TdG]

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  1. So much for those who said world facing water shortages . World always has them some where but not global. Same crowd that harped on California was not true then and certainly not now.

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