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Basel-based insurance firm Baloise is deploying its own light aircraft to protect the population against hail damage. The aircraft releases silver iodide beneath hail clouds in an effort to reduce the damages caused by hailstones.
Baloise aims to reduce the probability of hail by up to 50 per cent with its cloud seeder. According to a company press release, the small aircraft is fitted with a special spraying device that releases silver iodide – which causes no damage to the environment – beneath hail clouds. The compound prevents large and heavy hailstones from forming, which might otherwise cause damage. Instead, lots of smaller hailstones are formed and fall to the ground in the form of wet snow or rain.
“In Germany, Austria and the US, cloud seeders have been used for decades to prevent damage. Thanks to the Baloise cloud seeder, Switzerland is now also benefiting from this efficient means of averting heavy hailstorms,” said Mathias Zingg, member of the Baloise executive board and head of claims at Baloise Insurance.
Hailstorms cost the Swiss economy millions of francs in damages every year, which is why Baloise opted to deploy the cloud seeder as part of its Simply Safe strategy.
The cloud seeder is now ready for use to protect the German-speaking part of Switzerland from the Flugplatz Birrfeld airfield in Lupfig in the canton of Aargau. Baloise is currently reviewing if it should extend the fleet to cover the French- and Italian-speaking areas of Switzerland.