Which area of Switzerland has the worst weather?

Which area of Switzerland has the worst weather?

A new study by AXA has revealed which canton in Switzerland has the worst and most damaging weather. In the last year, damage caused by storms, hail and floods totalled 144 million Swiss francs, 155 million francs less than the year before.

38.000 weather-related insurance claims in 2022

According to the study, reported in 20 Minuten, the amount of damage caused by the weather has varied wildly in the last 20 years. Last year, 38.000 weather-related claims on private insurance were made, at a total cost of 144 million Swiss francs, significantly more than the lowest claim years of 1998 and 2008 (52 million) but dramatically less than the all-time record - which was set in 2021, with 299 million francs claimed.

While it is hard to see a pattern in damage caused by weather, AXA head of property insurance claims Stefan Müller said that they “have noticed that storms are occurring more often today than they used to, [and] their intensity has increased - more heavy rain, more large hailstones.” He noted that this has created new challenges: "For example, heavy rain in densely populated areas can turn roads into dangerous rivers and underground car parks can literally flood."

Which Swiss canton experiences the most flooding?

In terms of flooding, Canton Schwyz suffers the most damage in Switzerland, followed by Thurgau, Lucerne, Solothurn and Aargau. In fact, 33 percent of all floods in the last 10 years have been concentrated in these five cantons, although Müller noted that efforts by Swiss councilscantons and the government to build flood protection for inhabited areas have reduced the damage caused by flooding significantly in the last 10 years.

On the flip side, Nidwalden, Vaud, Uri, Graubünden and Basel-Stadt have been the least affected by flooding. Müller explained that these cantons have not experienced a major flood for at least a decade.

Which area of Switzerland gets the worst hail storms?

Hail damage makes up a significant proportion of insurance claims in Switzerland, especially those related to road accidents and damage to housing. In the last 20 years, Jura has been subjected to the most hail damage, followed closely by Ticino and Neuchâtel. 

Patrick Villiger, head of motor vehicle claims at AXA, said that these cantons have been subjected to hard, fast hail storms, which can cause heavy damage to cars in a short period of time especially if they are driving at speed. In contrast, drivers in Schaffhausen, Geneva, Graubünden, Glarus, Valais and Thurgau have hardly experienced any damaging hail in the last 20 years.

One Swiss canton has six times as many lightning strikes

Finally, when it comes to lightning strikes, one canton is above all others: Ticino. Every year, AXA said it receives several hundred claims related to lightning in Italian-speaking Switzerland. In fact, the risk of damage by lightning strikes is six times higher in Ticino than the rest of the country as a whole, and 30 times higher than in Basel and Lausanne.

AXA explained that Ticino’s violent weather relates to its unique climate within Switzerland - situated south of the mountains where warm humid Mediterranean air is pressed up against the Swiss Alps, creating strong thunderstorms. 

AXA suggests ways to reduce damage in bad weather

Concluding the study, AXA suggested that to minimise damage, residents across Switzerland should pay attention to weather apps and warnings issued by local authorities. Some of the measures suggested include packing away outdoor items before a storm, keeping drains clear during heavy rain, placing items in a raised position if there is a flood risk, and parking your car and raising your shutters during hail and lightning storms.

For more information, check out the AXA website.

Thumb image credit: / Michael Derrer Fuchs

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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