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Burgundy to revisit anti-hail measures

After the devastating hail storms in Burgundy this week, and following on from hail earlier in this 2013 season, and in 2012, the president of the Regional Council, François Patriat, has said that the local government is once again looking at aerial defence measures such as cloud seeding.

Recent hail in Burgundy, credit: Domaine Nicolas Rossignol

‘Faced with these repeated destructive episodes,’ Patriat said via a press release today, ‘we need to relook at an aerial anti-hail system similar to ones used in Burgundy in the past.’

Cloud-seeding is the process where dry ice or silver iodide are put in to clouds to weaken storms, and make precipitation fall as rain rather than hail.

It dates back to the 1940s, but is highly controversial, partly because of the huge costs involved, and partly because its efficiency is hard to measure, as are its long-term effects on weather patterns, or its impact on adjacent areas that may receive less or altered rainfall as a result.

Alain Suguenot, deputy-mayor of Beaune and a member of the National Assembly in the French parliament, has asked for a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture to explore what preventative measures can be brought in.

Suguenot has also asked the government to classify the hail as a national disaster, which would allow an application to EU relief funds.

Some producers are reportedly ready to try launching silver iodide rockets into clouds themselves. This method was tried in the 1970s with rockets that could rise up to 1,800 metres, but was found to be widely ineffective.

Patriat visited the affected region today, Thursday 25 July.

Written by Jane Anson

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