Updated: The dangers of hail

Hail damage doesn’t discriminate and rarely comes with an advanced warning – it can happen anywhere, at any time. Hail can be as small as a pea or a quarter-inch in diameter, as big a softball which is 4 1/2 inches in diameter, or even bigger in rare cases. The dangers of hail are extreme no matter the size that it is. The largest hailstone ever recorded in the U.S. fell in Vivian, South Dakota in July of 2010, measuring 8 inches in diameter and weighing nearly 2 pounds.

Hailstones are formed by layers of water attaching together and freezing while they are inside a large cloud. When the formed water droplet starts to fall as precipitation, a strong upgraft of wind draws it back into the cloud to collect more water. This process happens continuously until the hailstone becomes too heavy to remain in the cloud and it drops down to Earth.

Small hail
No matter its size, hail still poses major risks. Small hail even a half an inch in diameter can reach speeds of 20 mph and usually comes down in larger quantities than large hail, creating a greater risk for damage.

What is the typical scale of a hail storm? It varies considerably. Hail falls in paths known as “swaths,” or “streaks,” which can cover small distances like a few acres to huge distances like a 100 miles wide and 10 miles long. Dense swaths of hail of any size can cause serious damage to both people and property.

Some places get more hail than others, but no place is immune. There is not a lot that can be done to completely protect your home and other belongings from the dangers of hail, but there are a few steps that homeowners can take to lessen the damage.

If you have access to a garage, make sure that is where your car is parked during hailstorms. If that is not an option, putting heavy blankets on your car’s surface can offer a little protection.

One of the biggest dangers of hail is what it can do to your roof. Consider impact-resistant shingles.

Install storm shutters on your windows and doors to protect them from shattering.

What comes with hail?
Any type of thunderstorm can produce hail, but “supercell” storms are responsible for the biggest hailstones. Most of the time, large hail that is the size of a quarter or larger is brought in by a storm that has tornado activity as well.

What signs point to a possible tornado? Large hail usually falls north of a tornado, but just because you see hail doesn’t mean there’s a funnel on the ground. If a storm suddenly drops hail, immediately take cover and listen to your local radio for storm reports in your area.

If you’re inside, you should stay there until the storm completely passes:

Make sure everyone is accounted for and inside.

Stay away from glass that can be broken like windows and doors.

Don’t go outside for any reason.

If you get caught outside during a hailstorm and can’t get inside a structure, protect as much of your head and body as possible to avoid the dangers of hail.

Avoid ditches and low areas that could suddenly flood.

Don’t seek shelter under a tree, as it can lose limbs and may attract lightning.

Hail can mean big trouble for you and your property. While there are safety measures present that can keep you and your family safe, your home might not be so lucky. Anytime your home goes through a hailstorm, you should contact a professional like our contractors at Xcel Roofing to inspect your property for damage.

We offer free storm inspections for any homeowner that is concerned about their property. You can give our office a call or fill out the form below to book yours today.

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