In Texas, hail is a natural occurrence that happens every time. It is one of the most feared weather phenomena because it has the potential to destroy plants, trees, crops, animals and human life upon impact if strong enough. A severe storm can have a domino effect and place challenges on the environment. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (the U.S. government’s climatology branch), hail causes $1 billion in damage to crops and property each year.
In this article, you will read some interesting facts about this natural phenomenon and how you can avoid its harsh effects.
What is Hail?
Hail is a form of solid precipitation. It is distinct from ice pellets, though the two are often confused. It consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone. Ice pellets fall generally in cold weather while hail growth is inhibited during cold surface temperatures.
How does hail form?
Hail forms in storm clouds. When the weather is warm and the air is full of moisture, these clouds can accumulate. Within the cloud, droplets of water can form. These droplets will fall and rise with air updrafts. If a droplet reaches a cooler part of the cloud, it can freeze. This frozen sphere can repeatedly fall and rise and it will grow in size with each pass. Once that sphere is too heavy, gravity will pull it through the updraft force and it will fall to the earth in the form of hail.
Hail can impose serious damage, notably to automobiles, aircraft, skylights, glass-roofed structures, livestock and most commonly, crops. Hail damage to roofs often goes unnoticed until the further structural damage is seen, such as leaks or cracks. Hail is also a common nuisance to drivers of automobiles, severely denting the vehicle and cracking or even shattering windshields and windows. Wheat, corn, soybeans, and tobacco are the most sensitive crops to hail damage.
The largest hailstone
The largest hailstone by diameter fell in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010. It measured 7.9 inches (20 cm) in diameter and 18.622 inches (47.3 cm) in circumference.
Hail in Texas
Texas traditionally has the most recorded severe hail events with a given year. The National Insurance Claim bureau stated that hail loss claims from 2013 through 2015 totaled 394,572.
How to keep safe from a hail
Hail is a natural occurrence which is inevitable. However, preparing beforehand is the key to survive this phenomenon.
- When a hail is forecasted, close your drapes, blinds or window shades to prevent potential injury from broken glass blowing inside.
- Do not try to go outside to protect your property during a storm. Stay indoors until the storm has passed.
- Stay away from skylights, windows, and doors.
- Verify that you can safely move around outside. Avoid any broken or downed branches and power lines.
- Check the trees, shrubs, and plants around your house. If they are stripped of their foliage, there is the possibility that your roof is damaged.
- Cover any broken windows and holes in your roof to prevent water intrusion following hail damage.