Archive for January, 2001

Hail Information Now Readily Available

Wednesday, January 17th, 2001

New software now installed, gives VCE, Inc. the ability of accessing all 40 years of the hail records of the National Weather Service for any location in the United States. The records are current up to 3 months prior to the current date.

National Weather Service gathers hail information from every official reporting station. Reports from reporting stations include information from storm spotters located throughout the reporting area, law enforcement or emergency management personnel, media reports, and from the general public. Nashville, for example, has 11 weather stations, and there are about 400 spotters in Middle Tennessee. In many cities, most reports from a given reporting station are recorded as having occurred at the latitude and longitude of the reporting station. The accuracy of the data has not been independently confirmed.

To obtain information at a given location, one enters search information. The information entered, is the latitude and longitude of the location in question, the time period to be considered, the radius in miles of the search area, and the range of the size of hail. The smallest diameter of hailstone which may be used is 3/4 of an inch. The largest size is 5 inches in diameter. The program then issues a report showing the latitude and longitude, the date and time of day, and the size of hailstone for each occurrence of hail in the selected area.

An investigator may utilize the data obtained as dependable information for determining the probability of hail damage. The investigator must realize that a hailstorm is an event which occurs over an area while hail-fall reports are listed as point locations. Thus, a hailstorm could cover several square miles and deposit different sizes of hailstones, but there might be only one hail-fall report. Before the development of this software, the information was maintained at the National Weather Service, but was not readily available. It is true that not all occurrences of hail are reported. Nevertheless, the availability of reliable information about hail will greatly aid in the determination of actual hail damage.

Carl Hudson