Each year, hail from thunderstorms causes billions of dollars in damage across the United States, including a large amount of roof damage - much of which goes unnoticed until it is too late.
How Hail is Formed
Hail is frozen precipitation (over 5 millimeters in diameter) that can grow to be “gargantuan” sized orbs like one found in South Dakota in 2010, which measured 8 inches in diameter and weighed about 2 lbs. (Lee Scott, who collected the current US record-holding ice behemoth, reportedly planned to use it for making daiquiris, but instead decided to save it in his freezer and alert the National Weather Service.)
“Raised” in tall thunderstorm clouds (Cumulonimbus), a hailstone forms from water droplets rising in updrafts of speeds up to 100 mph and to altitudes of up to 60,000 ft, falling, then cycling up again. It can develop from “wet” formation where droplets spread across the perimeter, releasing air and freezing clear, or in “dry” formation when frozen droplets collide and stick together, retaining their air and forming a cloudy hailstone. With either formation method, the cycle can repeat several times before the stone becomes big enough to escape the updrafts and plunge to earth.
Damage Caused by Hail
Generally, hail larger than half an inch diameter can cause damage. The hail size is indicative of updraft speeds, with faster updrafts causing larger hail. And as the size increases so does the speed at which the hail can fall. A dime-sized hailstone might fall to the ground at around 20 miles per hour, and a baseball-sized rock may reach around 80 miles per hour. Click here for more information on hail formation - https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/hail
Hailstorms in the U.S. currently cause about $15 billion in damage to homes, automobiles, and crops each year. This average has been on the rise in the last several decades, in part due to population increases in hail-risk areas and a trend toward larger home sizes in newer construction.
While large, fast-falling hailstones create obvious damage that is impossible to ignore, the signs of damage from smaller hail can go unnoticed. And while damage to vehicles and other forms of property can be readily apparent, roof damage is hard to detect. It can be years later before homeowners experience any detrimental effects. If a hailstorm has been reported in the area, it is crucial for homeowners to have their roof inspected for damage to access the home insurance coverage they’ve paid for to maintain their homes’ defense against the elements, as hail damage not remedied can lead to a leaky roof where water can seep in and cause tremendous damage undetected until it's too late.
The Ridge Top Hail Report accesses a database of storm information for the past five years based on a specific address supplied by the user and includes information such as hail size, intensity, wind speed, and duration of the storm. Hail Reports are just $15 and can be expedited for an additional fee.
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