In Switzerland, hail causes millions of francs worth of damage to vehicles, buildings and agriculture every year. It is the second most expensive natural hazard in the country, topped only by floods. “Mobiliar supports the Swiss Hail Network as an act of social responsibility,” says Patric Deflorin, Director of Insurance and Member of the Executive Board. “An efficient hail warning system will help raise awareness of hail as a natural phenomenon and of its effects. This should lead to a reduction of hail damage in Switzerland.”
Hail generally occurs in localised areas and is difficult to forecast. The Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks at the University of Bern and Switzerland's Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss, have declared it their mission to gain a better understanding of hail. Ground-based measurements are to contribute to improved hail warnings and forecasts.
80 fully automated hail sensors will be installed in the next few weeks, initially in Emmental and Entlebuch and then at other hail hotspots in Jura and Southern Ticino. The hail sensors will measure grain size, kinetic energy and time of impact. inNET Monitoring AG from Altdorf developed the hail sensors and is responsible for their installation and maintenance.
Science benefitting from unique data set
Although it is now possible to discern hail in thunderclouds thanks to data collected by the overhauled Weather Radar Network, it has so far been difficult to verify hail radar data in the absence of ground observations. “We are interested in knowing where hail falls and what size the grains are,” explains Urs Germann, Head of Radar, Satellite and Nowcasting at MeteoSwiss. The hail reporting function, which has been integrated in the MeteoSwiss app for three years now, allows the public to submit valuable information on hail events. “The new hail sensors will provide additional and highly accurate hail data.”
This new combination of weather radar data, observations submitted by the public, hail damage to vehicles and data provided by the automated hail sensors is unique in the world. Data from the new monitoring network will also be made available for ongoing hail research at the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks at the University of Bern and will significantly advance scientific research in this field.
The hail sensors used in this project are manufactured by HyQuest Solutions.