Mitigating hail damage to the exterior of your home.
Updated: Jun 8
How does hail form?
Do you ever wonder how those pesky hailstones that can wreak havoc on your property come to be? It all starts with updrafts and downdrafts and how they interact in thunderstorms. An updraft is an area of upward-moving air that goes into a thunderstorm. Meanwhile, a downdraft is an area of downward-moving air that exits the thunderstorm. When a thunderstorm is in a very unstable environment and has strong vertical updrafts and downdrafts, it can produce large hail. Hail forms when the updraft of a severe thunderstorm carries water droplets high up into the thunderstorm where temperatures are well below freezing. Particles such as water droplets, graupel, and even insects can become caught in an updraft where they act as embryos that grow by acceleration.
There are three different ways for hail growth to occur; dry growth, wet growth, and spongy growth. The dry growth process occurs when all of the supercooled water droplets and parts of ice crystals come into contact with the embryo. What this means is that when the growing hailstone enters an area where the water content is exceptionally
low, supercooled droplets will begin to freeze instantly on the stone. Wet growth occurs when supercooled water droplets accumulate rapidly on the growing hailstone to the point where latent heat begins to be released causing the hailstones surface temperature to remain at the freezing level even though the air around the hailstone is much colder. During the spongy growth process, a hailstone tends to accumulate supercooled water droplets so fast to the point where the hailstone is not able to completely freeze. What this means is that the hailstone will be a mixture of water and ice at the freezing level.
Mitigating hail damage to your home
One way to mitigate hail damage to your house is by installing Lexan sheets to the exterior part of your windows. Lexan has proven to be a great way to mitigate damage to windows during a hail storm. How is this possible though? It has to do with the strength of Lexan materials. Lexan can withstand an impact 250 times greater than glass and about 30 times more than acrylic.
The price of a Lexan sheet varies as it depends on the size of the window you intend to apply it to. Another great way to mitigate hail damage to your home is by upgrading your roof to be more resilient to hail storms. The average lifespan of a roof is about 20 years, however, in hail-prone areas such as Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado, roofs may only last up to 10
years. This is because your roof takes a constant beating from hail. A way to mitigate having to replace your roof every 7 to 10 years is by having Impact-Resistant materials such as using asphalt for shingles or a metal type of material made for roofs. If you intend on using a metal material, make sure to place padding underneath to prevent the metal panels from splitting on impact. Both options
are available in multiple different colors and can be made to look like wood, slate, plastic, and so forth. Even though this will cost you more money, it’s well worth it in the long run as replacing an entire roof after a hailstorm will be much more costly. Another reason to make your roof more impact-resistant is that most of these materials will
protect you in a fire as most are rated Class A. Upgrading your roof will also not just protect you from hail, but also flying debris that may become airborne during a tornado or straight-line wind event. Finally, the best part is that you may be eligible for an annual discount on your homeowners premium by showing that you are taking precautions to mitigate damage to your house. That concludes this month's preparedness blog on mitigating hail damage to your home. I hope that you learned something new and that you all stay safe during hail storms! Until next time, stay safe my friends.
About the author
About the writer: Michael Thornton is a recent Emergency Management graduate at Rose State College with a certificate in Emergency Planning & Preparedness. He has a background in meteorological studies and is a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation ambassador who works with individuals, businesses, and governments to create more disaster-resilient communities.