HailTrace is a storm tracking company located in Edmond, Oklahoma.
They help roofing companies track storms so that they can better position themselves to land roofing jobs.
To track storms, HailTrace employs an impressive array of technology.
This includes a $130,000 truck that is equipped with modern technology that allows HailTrace to chase storms.
“I lose about one windshield per year,” says HailTrace CEO Derik Kline, the man who spearheads these storm chasing ventures. “Last year I was in hail twenty-five times and I only lost one windshield.”
HailTrace is also able to track hurricanes with a device located on the back of their truck that is capable of measuring rain, temperature, wind, and humidity.
“It’s decked out to do anything,” says Kline, who adds that he and his team need all of this equipment in order to effectively track storms.
“We chase storms for ABC [television network] and our setup allows us to stream all of their equipment.”
HailTrace chases fifty to seventy-five storms per year, plus three to four hurricanes. They are able to do this because they live in Oklahoma City, a hotspot for inclement weather.
“We are six hours from Nebraska and six hours from south Texas,” says Kline. “If you want to storm chase, Oklahoma City is the center hub. You can get to most storms within a few hours.”
For hurricanes, Kline and his team go further south to Florida.
“I was in Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Michael, the category five that hit Panama City,” says Kline.
HailTrace actively pursues severe weather because it is a great way to market their brand.
“When we were in Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, we had thousands of views on YouTube while we were streaming live,” Kline reveals.
HailTrace has been in business for eleven years, but it wasn’t until the last five years that the company began to increase their reach and popularity.
As a result of their expansion, HailTrace has been able to hire six meteorologists, which allows them to stream shows every night from their studio in Edmond.
“This studio is a big marketing piece for us. We spent a lot of money on it,” says Kline.
And at HailTrace, there is little downtime, considering their meteorologists are constantly tracking storms.
“They literally track every single hailstorm, windstorm, and tornadic storm in the U.S., Canada, and Australia,” explains Kline.
This strategy helps them market to roofing companies by letting them notify roofers when a storm has affected their area.
“We track storms live and alert the roofers. We show them where the storm happened,” says Kline.
HailTrace also provides storm data to insurance companies, but this doesn’t mean that the insurance companies are always satisfied with their findings.
“If we say it hailed, they don’t like us. If we say it didn’t hail, then they like us,” Kline says with a laugh.
“It’s the same for roofers. If we say it didn’t hail, they don’t like us.”
To build their online audience, HailTrace goes live every day at noon on YouTube.
“It’s all about consistency. Even if there is no chance of severe weather, we still go live. We also do a forecast and give an update at 5 P.M., and then if there are active storms in the city, we’ll go live and cover the storms,” explains Kline.
This allows the meteorologists on staff to stay busy, even if inclement weather isn’t in the forecast.
“When we track a storm, they hand-draw on a map where it’s happening, and we have a tool in the back of our website, so as our meteorologists update the map, it updates for our users,” says Kline, who adds that every meteorologist is responsible for monitoring three computer screens throughout their shift.
“They have to track so many storms, so each meteorologist works three radar locations. For example, in Oklahoma we have the Oklahoma City radar. We also have Frederick, Enid, and Tulsa. One meteorologist could track all four of those, but if there were storms in Texas, Kansas, and Missouri, they couldn’t track all of those. That’s why we have so many different screens.”
To keep up with the endless tracking of storms, HailTrace stays open all day and throughout the night.
“There is always someone available. We rotate call weeks because sometimes there is stuff that we don’t know,” says Kline.
“College Station [located in Texas] recently got hit. We were not forecasting for them to get hit that night, but we were ready. We mapped it live as it happened, and we didn’t miss it.”
Some roofing contractors have been critical of HailTrace’s inability to always predict severe weather, but Kline says forecasting weather is not an easy endeavor.
“For hurricanes, the hardest thing to forecast is the intensity and the location,” he says.
“The best way that I can explain weather, especially in long-term forecasting, is that we are tracking low pressure. The weather that’s going to happen in America a week from now is already happening in Asia right now.”
This partly explains why HailTrace wasn’t able to predict the snowstorm that ravaged the state of Texas in early 2021.
At the same time, Kline’s team doesn’t have a vested interest in forecasting snow because it doesn’t result in roofs being damaged.
“We didn’t call it [snow in Texas] out, but we did forecast it. The analog year that we were using for our forecast was 2011. That was the last time Texas had power outages from the Arctic cold,” explains Kline.
In the end, despite not always being able to predict the future, HailTrace still has their sights set on evolving in the coming years.
“We are trying to think five years down the road. Last year we grew by thirteen employees and this year we have added another several already,” says Kline, who then emphasizes the value that HailTrace places on customer service.
“We assign a customer support person to every client. We have 300 customers to one rep. That’s the number we want to be at because that way the reps can talk to every customer at least once a month.”
Want to learn more about HailTrace?
Visit their website today!