IBHS 2013 hail field study labeled a success

Hail Field Study Hardness TesterThe IBHS Field Study Team is wrapping up the second deployment of 2013. The deployments began in May and will conclude June 5. Check out photos, Tweets and other details from the deployment.

The effort has been a success, said IBHS Research Scientist Ian Giammanco, PhD, “We collected 237 total hailstones during last year’s deployment; this year we have already collected about 750 hailstones.”  

The team has met its main objective – collecting hail data across a large swath, Giammanco said. There is truth to having strength in numbers.

“By having multiple teams, we were able to get a more accurate picture of the hail that a storm produces in its various areas,” he said. “It would be great to go out with even more teams, but that will have to come with new interest from IBHS member companies.”

How IBHS Hail Data is Used

IBHS hail data is being used in a variety of ways and there are more possibilities ahead. Risk modelers have requested and been provided data from the 2012 field studies, Giammanco said, and will be provided with the 2013.  

Radar detection of hail will be another short term contribution that is already happening, said Giammanco adding, “We already know a lot about the growth process of a storm, but we just don’t know what kind of hail will come from that process. The more data we collect out here makes the radar of the storm that much better.”

How will hail detection radar benefit the public? Giammanco said the payoff will be better seasonal and local forecasts, an improved understanding of hail risks and the ability to better plan to reduce hail-related property damage.

What’s Next

Once the field work is completed, it’s back to the IBHS Research Center.

“We will be doing meticulous lab work to try and recreate what we found out here,” said Giammanco. “Our current lab methods are highly variable and it will take a lot of time to begin to consistently recreate hail that is like what we have found. Step one will be to take our observations from the field and try replicate the data.”

For example, the “slush” hailstones the team discovered Monday in the field are something that researchers have so far been unable to recreate on a consistent basis at the lab.

“This type of hail usually doesn’t cause significant damage, but what kind of impact does this kind of hail have on an aged roof? We just don’t know yet,” Giammanco said. “Data on this kind of hailstones is just as valuable as the hail that is not as slushy. Also, collecting data from a storm that produces slushy hailstones is valuable to insurers. Knowing the type of hailstones that are typically associated with a certain kind of storm will allow insurers to more accurately address claims.” 

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