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The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and State Farm are currently in the midst of continuing a major multi-faceted research effort to study hailstorms with the goal of reducing property losses. As part of this effort, IBHS and State Farm are studying hailstorms in the Central Plains region in an attempt to better understand the characteristics of damaging hail, which depends on size, density and hardness of hailstones.

Objectives of the field study include: quantify natural hailstone hardness, by evaluating the compressive force required to fracture a hailstone; deploy a ruggedized, unmanned camera probe to capture high-definition video of hail falling within storms to study hailstone trajectories and spatial coverage; and examine radar and environmental data to develop relationships between those data fields and the characteristics of fallen hailstones.

The field study will provide valuable data and insights for shaping ongoing work at the IBHS Research Center. IBHS will evaluate the hardness and density of natural hailstones in order to accurately manufacture artificial hailstones at the IBHS Research Center. Previous IBHS field study data were used when the Institute recreated a full-scale indoor hailstorm at the IBHS Research Center in February 2013. As IBHS collects additional data from natural hailstorms, this information will enable IBHS engineers to continue to appropriately recreate and analyze the impact of hail on buildings and specimens tested at the IBHS Research Center.

Severe thunderstorms frequently are accompanied by hailstorms. As population density has increased and spacing between residential and commercial buildings has decreased in many metropolitan areas, there has been rapid growth in the number of hailstorms that cause hundreds of millions of dollars – or more than a billion dollars in damage. Property owners pay for this damage in several ways, including through inconvenience and being responsible for insurance policy deductibles when losses occur. Fortunately, impact-resistant roof covers can reduce losses and associated property ownership costs.

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