Depending on where you live and the severity of the storm, hail can be either a minor irritating event or a potentially devastating, destructive threat. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), hailstones fall to earth from 30,000 feet, reaching up to 120 mph before they hit trees, vehicles and structures. These storms cause $1 billion in damages to crops and property each year, the NWS says.
Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming usually have the most hailstorms, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. The area where these three states meet is known as “hail alley,” and it averages seven to nine hail days each year. But hail storms are not limited to this area, and in 2016 there were 5,601 major hail storms, according to the NWS’ Annual Severe Weather Report Summary. And while they may not receive the attention of other weather events like tornadoes, hail storms can cause significant damage. In 2016, hail storms caused $3.5 billion in property and crop damage, says the Insurance Information Institute (III).
Roof shingles are designed with withstand normal weather patterns and elements. However, they can be damaged when they face substantial weather events such as high winds or significant hail impacts, according to Owens Corning. Significant hail impacts can cause bruising and the removal of the protective granulation coating on the shingle.
Wind can cause creasing of your roof’s shingles or can blow them entirely off of the roof. Wind direction, landscaping and buildings surrounding your home can affect the hail damage sustained during a storm. Different slopes of the roof and different sides of your home can often sustain different amounts of damage. Some basic tips for inspecting your home for hail damage include:
If you do find any hail damage, you should take quick action. The III recommends you take pictures before you make any temporary repairs such as boarding up any broken windows or covering a hole in a roof with a tarp.
Regardless of the level of damage, you’ll also want to promptly report it to your insurance company, says the III, which may have recommendations on finding a contractor. Should your home sustain hail damage, keep in mind these tips when choosing a contractor:
So, the next time you spot threatening clouds, take cover and keep this hail damage checklist at the ready.
Originally published March 2014.