Hail and Tornadoes in the South

April 17, 2013 brought severe storms to the southern states. The Dallas/Ft. Worth area experienced high speed winds, heavy rain, and pockets of hail. A tornado touched down in central Oklahoma, hitting the region with high winds and rain. Hail was reported with the storm, though no damages have been reported yet. Southeastern portions of Kansas also experienced heavy rain and strong winds.

Rainfall totals that are possible Wednesday and Thursday (April 17-18, 2013). Image Credit: Weather Prediction Center

Massive Storm System Sweeps Nation

Spring naturally brings severe thunderstorms to various parts of the country. Residents in the South are particularly familiar with the random changes in weather. On rare occasion, there is a storm system that sweeps through and takes everyone by surprise. This past week, 25% of the nation was slammed with a severe system, causing immense damage throughout the states.

The storm began in the central part of the country. Parts of Missouri were pummeled with heavy rain and high winds, while the St. Louis area experienced an EF-2 tornado (winds between 113-157 mph). Parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas were hit with heavy rain, strong winds, and hail. The system continued moving east, tearing apart roofs and damaging thousands of homes. Mississippi experienced a tornado, leading to injuries and leaving hundreds of homes without power. Golf-ball and baseball-size hail pelted Georgia and the Carolinas.

Northeastern states were also afflicted with damages due to hail. Indianapolis, Indiana and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have reported huge damages due to the storm. Northern areas of New York experienced ice and intense rain. The system eventually dissipated by the end of the week, leaving thousands devastated.

Protecting Your Home From Hail

Hail can range from pea-size to the size of a volleyball. The ice chunks generally don’t fall for a long period of time (usually around 30 minutes), but the constant bombardment in that short period of time can rack up hundreds, maybe even thousands in damages. Your home is susceptible to roof and window damages, among other potential issues. In order to ensure the protection of your house, make sure you read these tips below:

  • Check the sheathing in your attic – it’s the wood that holds the roof up. Make sure that it is properly secured (nails are not missing) and that it is not suffering from water damage.
  • Reinforce the walls of the attic/roof. If the structure seems weak, brace the walls with two 2 X 4″ wood planks in an “X” formation.
  • Replace shingles immediately if they are old or damaged. Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice because they are impact-resistant.
  • Install wind shutters on the outside of your windows. The shutters will prevent the glass from shattering due to high velocity winds or hail.
  • Secure door hinges with heavy-duty bolts. This will keep the doors from being ripped out of the frame.

By following these simple tips, you can prevent, or at the very least reduce damages from intense storms and hail. Stay protected, but most importantly stay safe!

Hail Tracking, Perfected

Storm trackers have relied on Doppler radars and ground reports for years in order to track systems, assess damages, and predict weather patterns. It is a very hit-and-miss process, and even more so when it comes to hail. Hail is a very unpredictable phenomenon; very specific weather conditions are required for its formation. Tracking hail is tricky and it can lead to some frustration. That’s why we at HailStrike are proud to introduce the AniSwath:

The AniSwath is a revolutionary program that allows users to easily track hail storms. By using the radar stations that are scattered around the nation and condensing the information, we are able to display precisely where hail has fallen. AniSwaths will show the storm path(s), how many hits were recorded, how intense the storm was, where the hail landed, and how long the storm lasted. This program is second-to-none when it comes to tracking hail. For more information, go to the main HailStrike site. Roofers should take notice!

Understanding Hail Formation

Hail is a potentially devastating force of nature. It can tear cars apart and rip through houses. The balls of ice can rain down destruction and fill lives with woe. The mysterious ice particles seem to randomly pop up throughout the country, making it difficult to predict when and where it will fall. Though it may seem enigmatic, hail can only form and fall under certain, very specific conditions.

First off, let’s start with the basic definition: Hail forms when tiny clumps of ice are pushed upwards from strong updrafts through freezing clouds until they are heavy enough to fall to earth.

The more advanced process: Water droplets supercool in the atmosphere. The ice may either to accumulate and grow larger, or it may melt and turn into rain. If a storm is cold and windy enough, the ice may continuously be pushed up, collecting more layers of freezing rain. As long as the updrafts are constant, a hailstone will continue to grow, forming more and more layers. Whenever the hailstone becomes to heavy, it will fall to the ground, potentially gaining more layers and it descends through the clouds. Larger hailstones are more likely to form in towering cumulonimbus clouds.

Alert System Tip

Part of our service package is an alert system that lets you know when hail activity is reported. One of our clever clients shared a great tip for all of you who are currently accessing HailStrike. You can set 10 alerts, and he chose to set up an alert in the county next to him. This way he is able to track the storm before it hits his county, giving him an even greater advantage in the market. We at HailStrike enjoy serving you and love hearing from you. Please leave any feedback or tips that you would like to share in our comment section below.