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Tanya M. Brown, William H. Pogorzelski, and Ian M. Giammanco

Abstract

A series of thunderstorms on 24 May 2011 produced significant hail in the Dallas–Fort Worth (DFW) metroplex, resulting in an estimated $876.8 million (U.S. dollars) in insured losses to property and automobiles, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. Insurance claims and policy-in-force data were obtained from five insurance companies for more than 67 000 residential properties located in 20 ZIP codes. The methodology for selecting the 20 ZIP codes is described. This study evaluates roofing material type with regard to resiliency to hailstone impacts and relative damage costs associated with roofing systems versus wall systems. A comparison of Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) radar-estimated hail sizes and damage levels seen in the claims data is made. Recommendations for improved data collection and quality of insurance claims data, as well as guidance for future property insurance claims studies, are summarized. Studies such as these allow insurance underwriters and claims adjusters to better evaluate the relative performance and vulnerability of various roofing systems and other building components as a function of hail size. They also highlight the abilities and limitations of utilizing radar horizontal reflectivity-based hail sizes, local storm reports, and Storm Data for claims processing. Large studies of this kind may be able to provide guidance to consumers, designers, and contractors concerning building product selections for improved resiliency to hailstorms, and give a glimpse into how product performance varies with storm exposure. Reducing hail losses would reduce the financial burden on property owners and insurers and reduce the amount of building materials being disposed of after storms.

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Ian M. Giammanco, Benjamin R. Maiden, Heather E. Estes, and Tanya M. Brown-Giammanco

Abstract

The emergence of 3D scanning technologies has provided a new opportunity to explore the shape characteristics of hailstones in great detail. The ability to effectively map the shape of hailstones will improve assessments of hailstone aerodynamic properties, how their density relates to their strength, and how radar energy is scattered. Ultimately, 3D scanning of hailstones will contribute toward research in hail detection, forecasting, and damage mitigation of severe hail, which accounts for well over $1 billion in annual insured losses.

The use of a handheld 3D laser scanner in a field setting was explored during field campaigns in 2015 and 2016. Hailstones were collected following thunderstorm passages and were measured, weighed, and scanned. The system was successful in capturing 3D models of more than 40 hailstones. A full scan takes approximately 3 minutes to complete, and data can be captured at a resolution of 0.008 cm. It is believed this is the first time such a system has been used to produce 3D digital hailstone models. Analysis of the model data has shown that hailstones depart from spherical shapes as they increase in diameter, and that bulk density and strength show little correlation. While the dataset presented here is small, the use of 3D scanners in the field is a practical method to obtain detailed datasets on hailstone characteristics. In addition, these data could be used to 3D-print hailstones to explore their aerodynamics, to produce cavity molds for ice impact tests, and for modeling radar scattering properties of natural hailstone shapes.

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Zhiyuan Jiang, Matthew R. Kumjian, Robert S. Schrom, Ian Giammanco, Tanya Brown-Giammanco, Heather Estes, Ross Maiden, and Andrew J. Heymsfield

Abstract

Severe (>2.5 cm) hail causes >$5 billion in damage annually in the United States. However, radar sizing of hail remains challenging. Typically, spheroids are used to represent hailstones in radar forward operators and to inform radar hail-sizing algorithms. However, natural hailstones can have irregular shapes and lobes; these details significantly influence the hailstone’s scattering properties. The high-resolution 3D structure of real hailstones was obtained using a laser scanner for hail collected during the 2016–17 Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) Hail Field Study. Plaster casts of several record hailstones (e.g., Vivian, South Dakota, 2010) were also scanned. The S-band scattering properties of these hailstones were calculated with the discrete dipole approximation (DDA). For comparison, scattering properties of spheroidal approximations of each hailstone (with identical maximum and minimum dimensions and mass) were calculated with the T matrix. The polarimetric radar variables have errors when using spheroids, even for small hail. Spheroids generally have smaller variations in the polarimetric variables than the real hailstones. This increased variability is one reason why the correlation coefficient tends to be lower in observations than in forward-simulated cases using spheroids. Backscatter differential phase δ also is found to have large variance, particularly for large hailstones. Irregular hailstones with a thin liquid layer produce enhanced and more variable values for reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization Z HH, differential reflectivity Z DR, specific differential phase K DP, linear depolarization ratio (LDR), and δ compared with dry hailstones; is also significantly reduced.

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Ian M. Giammanco, Tanya M. Brown, Rosemarie G. Grant, Douglas L. Dewey, Jon D. Hodel, and Robert A. Stumpf

Abstract

Throughout historical literature anecdotal or visual observations have been used to describe the hardness property of hailstones (e.g., hard, soft, slushy). A unique field measurement device was designed and built to apply a compressive force to the point of fracture on hailstones in the field. The device uses a pistol-grip clamp to apply a compressive load to a hailstone and integrates a fast-response load cell and associated data acquisition components to measure the applied force through the point of fracture. The strain rate applied to the stone is fast enough to produce a brittle failure, and the peak compressive force is appropriately scaled by the cross-sectional area to produce a compressive stress value. When compared to an Instron universal testing machine (UTM), the field measurement device exhibited a low bias induced by measurement hardware sampling limits. When a low-pass filter was applied to the Instron data to replicate the hardware properties of the field measurement device, good agreement was found for compressive force tests performed on laboratory ice spheres, and it was clear the device was capturing a relative measure of strength. The mean compressive stress for natural hail was similar to that of pure ice spheres, but individual thunderstorm events exhibited variability. Laboratory ice spheres also showed significant variability, which argues for large sample sizes when testing any material for impact resistance.

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