GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Friday morning dawned calm and quiet, if not exactly peaceful in the greater Lake Geneva region, following Thursday’s hail storm and wildly windy, rainy weather.
The Geneva to Lausanne stretch of lakeshore and hillsides running up to the Jura, as well as the ridge and slopes running the length of the Jura mountains up to Neuchatel suffered extensive damage, with the worst impact in Biel/Bienne, where 39 people had to be hospitalized, several of them in serious condition.
The videos and photos now coming up on web sites and social media show the astonishing mix of ice, wind and water that was suddenly unleashed on the region.
The first video below, from Tom Alexander in Geneva, shows an intersection near the Parc de Trembley, not far from the main train station in Geneva.
The second video is by Jonathan at So Money TV, outside their office.
MeteoSwiss this morning published a series of charts and graphics showing rainfall, wind, hail and the storm’s development, including an extraordinary animated gif page showing the rapid shift in the area likely to be hit by hail, from 13:30 to 17:00. Another animated radar shows the storm’s development over a mapped area, during the afternoon.
High winds and hail ruined crops and grapevines and caused extensive damage to buildings, notably roofs, and to cars.
Vineyards in Bernex-Lully in canton Geneva suffered, reports news agency ats; they represent about 6 percent of the canton’s wine production. Four hours before the storm, some of the winemakers from this area were awarded prizes at the ceremony for the canton’s 2013 selection of its top wines. Now much of the 2013 crop is destroyed and the 2014 harvest could also be smaller, with shoots that would normally carry next year’s grapes badly damaged in some areas.
Some vineyards around Nyon in Vaud were also damaged. In Neuchatel the damage ranges from 30 to 100 percent depending on the vineyard, with Auvernier, Boudry and Cortaillod suffering the greatest damage.
Roads and highways covered in debris and downed trees in many area led to massive cleanup operations. Crans-sur-Céligny in Vaud lost several trees.
Early estimates for the damage caused come from ECA, Vaud’s obligatory cantonal insurance against natural disasters which had opened 500 claims cases by Friday afternoon and was estimating the damage at CHF6 million, and from Suisse Grêle, which says 2,000 claims filed could come to CHF15 million, reports RTS.
Northern and eastern Switzerland had heavy rain Thursday night. Soldiers from the sanitary units of the Swiss army rushed to the aid of citizens in Seeland, providing a number of emergency services.
The national gymnastics festival in Biel/Bienne, from 13-23 June, suffered extensive damage to tents from another storm one week ago, and Thursday some of the structures at the fête gave way, injuring 37 people.
Eight are still in hospital Friday, several of them in serious condition, reports RTS. The festival, which draws thousands of gymnasts from around the country, was running again Friday.