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.

Hail Size Chart

We have compiled a helpful visual chart that explains the size range of hail and the damaged produced by its various sizes. As you can see below, hail damage can range anywhere from decimating landscaping to destroying entire homes. There have even been fatalities due to hail. Careful out there folks.









Makes holes in leaves and flower plants.



Strips leaves from plants and damages vegetables.



Breaks glass panes, scrapes paint, marks woodwork, dents trailers, tears tents.



Breaks windows, cracks window screens, scrapes off paint, kills chickens and small birds.



Breaks some roof tiles and slates, dents cars, strips bark off trees, cuts branches from trees, kills small animals.



Shingled roofs are breached, breaks away window frames, metal is scored.



Roofs are shattered to expose rafters, breaks window frames, seriously damages cars.



Shingle and tiled roofs are destroyed, cracks concrete roofs, small tree trunks split and knocked down, marks pavement, people at risk of serious bodily injuries.



Concrete roofs are broken, marks concrete walls, makes holes in walls of wooden houses, large tree trunks are split and knocked down, people at risk of fatal injury.



Brick houses are damaged, destroys wooden houses, people at risk of fatal injuries.


The chart above was compiled from various sources. Feel free to check them out here and here.

Going Green (or White)

Today roofing systems are taking a swing towards going green. Instead of painting the town red, roofers are painting the town white, or at least the roofs. This is not only beneficial to the environment, but also it can make a big difference towards people’s pocket books. It is a trend that we want to support and encourage.

There has been an article that quotes Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, saying, “There’s a friend of mine, a colleague of mine, Art Rosenfeld, who’s pushing very hard for a geo-engineering we all believe will be completely benign, and that’s when you have a flat-top roof building, make it white. “Now, you smile, but he’s done a calculation, and if you take all the buildings and make their roofs white and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of color rather than a black type of color, and you do this uniformly . . . it’s the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars on the road for 11 years.” Eleven years! A NASA/Columbia study shows that New York rooftops are 40 degrees cooler when painted white. This is significant data for rural areas experiencing the heat island effect. Duro-Last is one company that has a highly reflective roofing systems.

The EPA website describes “‘heat island’ as built up areas that are hotter than nearby rural areas. The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C). Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality.”

Another way, besides white roofs, that roofers can assist bigger cities with this economic situation is to encourage owners of buildings to create a “green roof” or a rooftop garden. It is said that on a hot summer day, a green roof’s surface temperature can be cooler than the temperature of the air. Roofers are well aware that this is not the case with other roof surface temperatures. These roofs absorb heat and act as insulators which reduces the energy needed for cooling and heating. This could be one of the most substantial sales points since it will benefit the place in the long run. Furthermore, some have gone the extra mile and their roofs are a very aesthetic and can allow employees to have a little place to go for respite during a hard workday. This could also improve quality of work within the workplace.

And yet another option that can be made available to customers are cool roofs that come in a few different colors. A cool roof helps reflect the sunlight and heat away from the building which can help reduce roofing temperatures making them up to 50-60 degrees cooler thank conventional roofing materials during the peak summer days. Roofers can utilize ENERGY STAR roofing materials to create cool roofs around our nation. The EPA says, “A California study found that cool roofs provide an average yearly net savings of almost 50 cents per square foot. This number includes the price premium for cool roofing products and increased heating costs in the winter as well as summertime energy savings, savings from downsizing cooling equipment, and reduced labor and material costs over time due to the longer life of cool roofs compared with conventional roof.

So, there you have it. White roofs, cool roofs, garden roofs, or maybe even cool looking garden roofs with white pathways. Whichever way, we ask that you consider going green…or was it white?!

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

The tornadoes on Saturday were unrelenting. There were around 135 tornado reports on our daily activity and about 199 hail reports. People living in the Plains were forced to take cover as tornadoes ripped through towns with determined paths. Surrounding the Fort Riley Military Reservation, grapefruit and softball sized hail was reported putting holes in roofs of cars and breaking all West side windows of houses. The town of Thurman, IA, was hit by an EF2 tornado, with 75% of the town destroyed.

These violent storms claimed six lives in Woodward, Oklahoma. It had been 65 years and 6 days since the historical 6th most deadly tornadoes had hit this very same town. During the storm in 1947 there were at least 107 people killed by an F5 tornado. Thankfully, technology has progressed since then and the community was given about a 24 hour warning of the Saturday storms. Without today’s technological advances, it could be likely that this dramatic storm front could have taken many more lives than it did. No matter the numbers, we cannot imagine the grief that this storm has produced for many. Roofers and Insurance Adjusters, take care of our fellow Americans, and stay safe out there as you sift through the rubble.

Intelligence Level: Deer vs. Kid

This video was taken on April 9, 2012 during a baseball sized hail storm in Woodward, Oklahoma. We see here a video of a smart deer and a not so smart kid. Justin Berk says, “At baseball size, hail can fall at 81 mph. That will hardly get you into the major leagues, but it can do serious damage if you get hit.”

The last known fatality occurred in Fort Worth, Texas when 19 year old Juan Oseguera went to move his car and was hit in the head with a softball sized hail, which can reach 103 mph. An infant can be killed with a golf ball size hail. All that being said, please take cover when significant hail storms are in the area. Be swift as the deer and seek cover.