Hail Storms and Hail Damage


Hail causes approximately $1 billion in damage annually in the United States to houses, buildings, cars and crops. The costliest hail storm in US history caused an estimated $2 billion in damage (Kansas City, April 2001)... and that's from one single storm.

Per NOAA, Small hail, up to about the size of a pea, can wipe out a field of ripening grain or tear a vegetable garden to shreds. Large hail, the size of a tennis ball or larger, can fall at speeds faster than 100 miles per hour and can batter rooftops, shatter windows and "total" automobiles.

Hail damage, like other types of storm damage, is classified as an "Act of God". As such, you cannot be singled out by your homeowners insurance company for a rate increase because you filed a claim. Insurance companies can increase premiums for everyone in an area that is susceptible to storm damage though, so use your insurance if you have hail damage. Learn more about storm damage insurance.

What is a Hail Storm?

Hail storms (also spelled hailstorms) are defined as thunderstorms that produce hail. Hail is a form of solid precipitation that is produced by thunderheads (aka thunderclouds; scientifically called cumulonimbus clouds). Hail stones are balls or clumps of ice that form in thunderheads due to the combination of sub-freezing temperatures and convection cell updrafting in the clouds.

How Hail Forms

Thunderhead clouds create strong updraft winds that cycle the precipitation up towards the top of the cloud, freezing and turning into hail along the way. In the top of thunderheads, where the updraft winds are weaker, gravity takes over and the hail stones start to fall. As hail stones fall back through the cloud, they pick up additional moisture from the cloud and grow in size. Hail stones can repeat this rising / falling action (called convection) many times. Once heavy enough to overcome the updraft winds, they fall all the way to the ground.

Interesting Hail Facts

Hail is defined as starting at a diameter of 0.2 inches or more. Hail can grow as big as golf balls, baseballs, and even soccer balls. Hail larger than 0.75 inches is considered large enough to cause serious damage in the United States. Per NOAA, hailstones can fall at speeds up to 120 mph.

The largest hailstone ever recorded in the United States was 8 inches in diameter, weighing nearly 2 pounds. This hailstone was recovered in Vivian, SD on July 23, 2010.

The previous largest hail stone ever recorded in the United States was 7 inches in diameter , almost as large as a soccer ball. This hail stone was recovered in Aurora, Nebraska on June 22, 2003.

Common Types of Hail Damage

Hail damage can be obvious or very difficult to detect, depending on the severity of damage and the thing damaged. If hail breaks through the windshield of your car and dents the roof, it's pretty easy to know you have damage. Other types of hail damage, like damage to homes, are not as easy to identify and require an experienced professional to adequately assess.

  • Roof Damage: Roofs are the most commonly damaged part of a home or business when hail storms hit. Hail damage to roofing can be difficult to detect and the longer you leave hail damage un-repaired, the more damage can occur as water leaks through the roof and into walls. Learn more about how to identify hail damage.

  • Skylight Damage: Imagine a baseball falling from space onto glass. It's no surprise that skylights are especially susceptible to hail damage. Skylights are most often damaged on the glass or on the seal around the outside.

  • Window & Siding Damage: Hail doesn't always fall straight down. When hail falls at angles it can crack windows and siding on your home or business. Learn more about window damage and siding damage.

  • Automobile Damage: If your car, truck or camper was exposed to direct hail strikes, it is quite possible that you will have damage to glass, plastic and metal surfaces. It is common to have dents in the body of your automobile and/or cracks in the glass after a hail storm.

  • Property Damage: Hail also causes damage to trees, plants and yards. Trees and tree branches can break and fall from the weight of hail and the winds that often accompany hail storms. When significant amounts of hail fall, then start melting on the ground, flooding and damage from standing water can occur. If you have substantial property damage from hail, you may want to contact a debris-removal service.

Especially when talking about hail damage to roofs on houses and commercial buildings, often times the untrained eye cannot detect hail damage to shingles, roofing materials, skylights, siding, and other materials. The safest option is to have an experience hail damage repair contractor perform a full hail damage inspection.

Please visit our hail damage page for more information on how to identify many types of hail damage.

Hail Storm Safety and Preparation

Thunderstorms that produce hail can be very dangerous and must be taken seriously. Ever been hit by a golf ball or a baseball before? Now imagine a solid ball of ice falling at up to 120 mph from thousands of feet up in the air. Large hail falls with enough force to damage roofs, cars, break windows and more. If a person were to be directly hit with large hail, it could cause serious bodily injury, or death. It is imperative to seek shelter immediately when faced with hail storms, severe thunderstorm watches and severe thunderstorm warnings in order to protect yourself from falling hail.

Additionally, severe thunderstorms that produce hail can also produce tornadoes, violent winds and excessive rain. These conditions can also cause power outages and interruption to other public services. Pay attention to National Weather Service storm advisory warnings and take shelter indoors to stay safe in hail storms. If you are in your car when a hail storm hits, pull over to the side with your flashers on to reduce the chances of having an accident.

Hail Damage Restoration Information

Hailstorms can be extremely destructive to residential and commercial buildings and automobiles. Furthermore, damage can be difficult to identify and insurance policies may have time limits to file a claim. Below are some links that will help you during the process of hail storm damage restoration and repair:

Getting Insured

Hiring the Right Storm Damage Contractor

Storm Damage Insurance FAQ's

Avoiding Contractor Scams

Identifying Hail Damage

Who is the National Storm Damage Center?

The National Storm Damage Center is an online resource for homeowners and business owners who are located in storm prone areas or are dealing with the effects of a recent storm.

We are here to bridge the gap between customers in need of storm damage repair and reputable contractors familiar with the insurance claim process.

If you would like help with your claim and repair process if you request a free damage inspection from the National Storm Damage Center you can be sure your contractors has passed a rigorous background investigation and has committed to uphold a strict code of ethics.

The National Storm Damage Center provides everything you need to prepare for and recover from severe storm damage.