NOAA’s National Weather Service’s severe weather summary for 2020 reported 38 tornadoes and 60 instances of hail in Tennessee. They also included 483 high wind reports.
Digging deeper into NOAA’s storm events database for hail events in 2020, we find the May 4 storm that hit the Nashville area reporting hail from quarter-sized to golf ball-size to two inches in diameter. Knoxville saw nickel-sized hail during a June 14 storm. While Chattanooga didn’t register on the hail events data, the storm on April 12 brought wind gusts up to 61 mph at Lovell Field.
What is Hail?
Hail forms when raindrops are driven high into the atmosphere by thunderstorm updraft winds. They hit freezing temperatures, forming ice. Should that routine continue, the ice is coated with new raindrops that freeze and add another layer of ice.
During that process, when the ice becomes heavy enough to overcome the updraft, it falls to earth. Of course, along the way it can also encounter severe winds, propelling it at an angle or even sideways before it hits the ground or someone’s home.
Hail can be pea-size, a quarter-inch in diameter, quarter size at one inch in diameter, and softball size at four inches in diameter. For the smaller size hail, the expected fall speed is between nine and 25 mph. One-inch-size hail typically falls at 25 to 40 mph, and those exceeding four inches in diameter can reach over 100 mph.
As you can tell, hail is not something you can ignore. It’s important to prepare for those inevitable hailstorms in our state.
How to Prepare for Hail
We’ve pulled together a list of key items to consider when preparing for hailstorms.
- Check Your Insurance Coverage
Most homeowner’s insurance covers hail damage. However, the deductible may be different for hail damage versus other hazards. There could also be cosmetic exclusions that specifically reference hail and wind damage. Check your policy to find out exactly what coverage you have for your home. You can then explore options for increasing coverage with your insurer.
Automobile hail damage is usually covered through comprehensive insurance coverage. Check your policy to determine both the coverage level and the deductible.
- Conduct Roof Maintenance
Your roof is the first thing impacted by the hail falling from the heavens. As such, it needs to be maintained on a regular basis and inspected closely after any hail or windstorms. Hail damage can be difficult to detect but the aggregate surface can be dislodged and washed off over time. Plus, the shingles can be pierced by the hail allowing rain onto the wood below the shingles.
Replace loose and damaged shingles on a regular basis. When it comes time to replace the entire roof, consider impact-resistant shingles that not only provide more protection but also can make you eligible for discounts on your homeowner’s insurance policy.
- Improve Gutters and Drainage
After hitting your roof, the hail and rainwater will be collected by your gutters and then routed to the ground by the downspouts. It’s important that your gutters be clear and free of any obstructions. Otherwise, the water can overflow and fall directly on your foundation, building up hydrostatic pressure, and entering your basement or crawl space through any cracks or openings. Basement waterproofing and sump pumps can catch leaks and prevent flooding.
In addition, lightweight aluminum gutters and downspouts can be seriously damaged by hail. Consider upgrading to stronger impact-resistant materials.
- Keep Trees in Trim
Wind and hail can bring down tree limbs and topple weak trees. With regular tree trimming, you can remove dead branches, trim back any branches growing over your home, and cull weak dying trees. Spring and fall are the perfect times to conduct this regular maintenance routine. The spring maintenance also sets you up well for the coming storm season.
- Install Window Protection
Hail not only falls to the ground but also is propelled by the wind. As such it can impact your windows, shattering them sending glass, hail, and rain into your home. You can install exterior shutters for protection or upgrade to impact-resistant windows. A further approach to protection is to close interior coverings such as drapes, blinds, and shades to help prevent broken glass from causing still more damage.
- Protect Your Vehicles: Garage, Carports, or Covers
While you may have automobile hail damage insurance coverage, there is the deductible cost and hassle of repair to consider. If you have a garage, make use of it before a storm approaches. Carports and protective automobile covers can also prove helpful when hail is in the area.
- Install Hail Guards
Hail guards, typically a metal mesh structure, are available to protect HVAC condensers, rooftop vents, and skylights. HVAC condensers are typically made from lightweight aluminum coils. Hail can cause considerable damage not only to the pipes but the radiating fins on the coils. This either renders them inoperable or greatly reduces their efficiency. Other guards are available to prevent damage to rooftop vents and skylights, which are particularly vulnerable to hail.
- Use Hail-resistant Siding
Depending on the wind conditions, hail is coming down at an angle or even sideways in the extreme. This means it not only hits your roof but the sides of your home exposed to the wind. Vinyl, aluminum, and wood siding are subject to dents, cracks, and chips.
On the other hand, fiber cement, engineered wood, and steel siding are hail resistant. So they are great candidates for new and upgraded homes. They may also be eligible for insurance discounts.
We’re hopeful that hail won’t damage your home’s foundation. Yet everything else that comes along with it can do significant damage from wind to heavy rain. That rainwater can collect near your home’s foundation and find any cracks to enter your basement or crawl space.
We recommend that you consult the professionals at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues with your foundation, basement, or crawl space that need attention in preparation for hail, wind, and rainstorms.
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