According to the National Storm Damage Center, 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.
Hail actually costs much more than tornadoes, although they receive much more publicity. And as John Allen, a climate scientist at Columbia University who studies how climate change might impact severe weather, reminds us, “(Hail) happens every year.”
Yet with the warming of the planet and higher accumulations of greenhouse gases, hail isn’t just happening every year, it’s increasing.
Just last year, a hail storm in Dallas, Texas dropped massive hail – the largest was reported to be 4.25 inches in diameter.
One reason for this predication, climate scientists tell us, is that the link between atmospheric warming and the capacity for air to hold more water vapor has been well established. What this creates is exactly the unstable atmosphere – a strong updraft that pushes rain above the freezing level – that hail requires.
Allen also notes another effect: global warming is causing the freezing level to rise. When this happens, there is more warm air for hail to fall through, meaning that it is the larger hail stones that will fall, while the smaller ones will melt.
The takeaway? Hail more frequently, and in the larger version. What this means for homeowners is more hail damage – to cars, property, homes and roofs. But as the National Storm Center notes, hail damage is classifies as an “Act of God” and for this reason, you cannot be singled out by your homeowners’ insurance company for a rate increase because you filed a claim.
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