IBHS Hail Field Research Fueling Groundbreaking Radar Improvements

When it comes to innovation, dual-polarized (dual-pol) radar is one of the biggest achievements in advancing our understanding of the weather around us. The National Severe Storms Laboratory took more than 30 years to develop and implement dual-pol radar, which improves forecasts and response to severe weather by determining the amount of falling precipitation, differentiating between hail and rain, and accurately showing when a tornado touches the ground.

Data from IBHS research could have a significant impact on how dual-pol radar sees damaging hail on the ground.

As hailstorm damages increase, sometimes eclipsing a billion dollars a storm, the need for more hail research has never been greater. Building upon dual-pol radar’s significant benefits, IBHS is conducting a multi-year research project studying the damaging impact of hail, as well as improvements to radar detection of hail.

After traveling throughout the Central Plains and collecting measurements on falling hailstones from 60 different storms, IBHS is reviewing its field data and analyzing how it could be used to improve radar detection of hail. The prospects are exciting because IBHS’ ground truth data will be compared with the dual-pol measurements taken by the National Weather Service for the same storm, and could have a profound impact on improving dual-pol radar algorithms that influence the radar detection of hailstones. As a result, this information can improve forecast warnings and hail swath products, potentially reducing the opportunity for fraudulent hail-related insurance claims.

In addition to the innovative measurement work, IBHS also has a wealth of information from 3D scans of hailstones gathered during field research. The 3D scans provide a unique opportunity for IBHS to create digital representations of hail and more accurately recreate hailstones.

Dr. Matt Kumjian, an assistant professor in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State University, is collaborating with IBHS by using the 3D models to see how dual-pol radar sees and reacts to oddly shaped hailstones. This work could also have a significant impact on how we can improve the radar detection of hail, which was not possible without the groundbreaking research and data collected by IBHS.

Learn more at DisasterSafety.org/hail/ibhs-hail-field-studies.

IBHS Hail Field Study - Cullman, AL Record Hailstone

IBHS Hail 3D Models

IBHS Hail Research Collaborations

IBHS Field Study Hail Collection