IBHS Scientists Initiate 2016 Hail Field Study in Central Plains Region

Contact:   hail-field-study_2016
Tiffany (O’Shea) Smith
(512) 636-7811

TAMPA, May 24, 2016 – The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is launching its 2016 hail field research study this week. Strong thunderstorms are predicted throughout the Central Plains where a team of IBHS researchers and scientists are conducting on-the-ground hail exploration and analysis. Insurance losses from hail have been substantial in recent years, with U.S. insurers paying almost nine million hail damage claims, totaling more than $54 billion in losses from 2000 through 2013, according to Verisk’s A-PLUS™ property database.

“As billion-dollar hailstorms become more common and annual insured losses continue mounting, our long-term hail research program will provide valuable data and insights that will improve our understanding of hail, to improve testing that will help make roofs stronger and thereby reduce losses,” said Tanya Brown-Giammanco, PhD, IBHS lead research engineer and director of hail research. “Collecting, measuring and evaluating natural hailstones enables us to recreate Mother Nature’s work in our laboratory to further study the effects of hail on buildings,” said Dr. Brown-Giammanco.

IBHS’ hail research program includes three major components: field research; testing on full-scale buildings in IBHS’ test chamber; and testing individual building components in the hail lab. IBHS is continuing a multi-year, major field research effort started in 2012, to examine hailstorms with the goal of reducing property losses and improving weather forecast models and radar detection of hail.  Specific objectives of the 2016 field study include:

  • Deploying a network of rugged, unmanned disdrometer (impact probe) to measure the hail size distribution and impact energy of falling hailstones.
  • Expanding 3D laser scanning of hailstones to collect 3D digital models used to create molds and artificial hailstones in the lab. 3D scans will also help determine how hailstone strength and density are related, which is an area that has not been previously explored in depth.
  • Continuing collaboration with Penn State University to improve radar detection of hail.
  • Evaluating the performance of new, experimental dual-polarization radar hail size algorithms.
  • Validating storm-scale hail simulation models.

“Severe weather in the Plains states continues to be active this year and has caused serious damage to roofs,” said Ian Giammanco, PhD, IBHS lead research meteorologist. “We are very enthusiastic about expanding our field study this year to increase our 3D laser scanning of hailstones to help understand hail aerodynamics and how hailstone shapes may affect damage. Our collaboration with Penn State University also is helping to improve how hail is detected by radar.”

More than two million hail loss insurance claims were processed from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2015. During this period, the top five states generating hail damage claims were Texas (394,572), Colorado (182,591), Nebraska (148,346), Kansas (127,963) and Illinois (120,513), according to the most recent three-year hail insurance claims analysis by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB).

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About The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

IBHS‘ mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss.