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    What is hail? The Science of Hail Explained with Derik Kline

    Derik Kline is the CEO of HailTrace, an Edmond, Oklahoma-based company that specializes in weather forensics.

    Kline and his team at HailTrace track storms and then notify roofing contractors in affected areas about potential opportunities regarding damaged roofs.

    If you’re interested in learning more about how HailTrace can help your roofing business canvass more leads, visit their website today!

    Keep reading to learn more about what hail is and why it disproportionately affects markets like Dallas and Colorado!


    What is hail?

    It’s a question Derik Kline gets a lot, but to understand what hail is, you also have to understand where it comes from.

    “In our atmosphere, the ground is one temperature, but as you go up, the temperature gets colder, which is an instability issue because warm air wants to rise. When it’s really cold, the warm air wants to rise faster,”

    says Kline, who then compares the airflow of the atmosphere with that of homes.

    “In your house, the bottom floor is always cooler than the top floor because the warm air rises up. That same concept happens in our atmosphere and that creates lift. Lift is the air rising and we can focus that lift so if we get a front that comes in, it will focus lift. That will increase the speed that the air is lifting in the atmosphere, and when we do that, it causes a thunderstorm to form, and inside that thunderstorm the lift continues to increase.”

    What’s more, when rain occurs between 10,000-15,000 feet, it freezes, and as a result, hailstones form.

    Ultimately, this weather pattern is why hailstorms occur so routinely, and why roofing companies are constantly needed to repair any damages that hail has inflicted upon roofs.

    And in markets like Dallas and Colorado, hail is extremely prevalent.

    “Colorado gets orographic lift. The mountains are the lift mechanism, so the air blows off the plains, shoots up the mountain, and causes lift,”

    says Kline.

    When this happens, hail causes damage to homes, but there is also another reason why Colorado is a hotbed for hail damage.

    “The Palmer Divide is part of Colorado’s geography, and that’s literally a mountain streak that comes out and goes down south of Denver,”

    says Kline.

    “If you’ve ever flown into Denver, you see the mountains to the west, but then there are also some hills that go to the south. That causes sheer or spin, which makes that inflow/outflow happen better in Denver than it does in other parts of the country. That’s why we get a lot of hail.”

    As for Dallas, the reason that city is inundated with hail is entirely different.

    “The plains are a great spot for storms, and another thing is that Dallas is massive. It’s hard for a hailstorm to miss that city because it’s so big. They also have an urban heat island. At night, they are ten degrees warmer than all the air around them,”

    explains Kline.

    Beyond Colorado and Dallas, many in the roofing industry claim that there has been more hail in recent years, but according to Kline, the idea of the United States having more hailstorms is misrepresented.

    “I would argue that we don’t get more hail in the U.S. now than we ever have. It gets reported more now, especially with social media, and just like the other issues we have and how they get magnified, the same thing happens with our storms,”

    he says.

    “But if you go back and look, it’s pretty neutral. I mean, you have your peak years and you have your down years. We’ve actually been in a below average streak for the last three years.”

    While the frequency of hail may have not increased, more puzzling to roofing contractors is that the size of hail droplets is not a reliable indicator of storm damage.

    “The interesting thing is that hail size isn’t always a perfect indicator for damage on a roof. I’ve taken shingles in baseball-sized hail and they did not receive damage, and that’s because hail has different densities inside of it,”

    Kline notes.

    “This is part of what we don’t know, which is why we’re doing this (operating HailTrace). We want to understand hard and soft hail, and then we can start to analyze the atmosphere and try to learn what caused hard and soft hail in a particular storm.”

    As the future of the roofing industry continues to evolve in unforeseen ways, so too does HailTrace and the services they can offer to contractors.

    Kline says that eventually he hopes to have developed a system that allows him to forecast hail and determine its density.

    Doing so would save roofing companies time by allowing them to more effectively deploy their salesmen to hail-affected areas, which would give his clients a tremendous advantage over their competition.

    “That would save guys like Ben Menchaca time and allow him to work an area where it makes more sense,” says Kline. “We want to show you not where it hailed, or not that it was two-inch hail, but where it was damaging [to a homeowner’s roof].”

    Until that day, Kline and his team at HailTrace are committed to learning more about hail patterns in a way that can continue to serve their clients and their needs.

    “We want to get better at what we do, and we try really hard to do that,”

    says Kline.

    Want to learn more about how HailTrace can help your roofing company?

    Visit their website today, and don’t forget to subscribe to all of Roofing Insights’ social media channels so you never miss any of their upcoming content!

    Quentin Super
    Senior Copywriter at Roofing Insights, author of the internationally-selling book The Long Road North, founder of quentinsuper.com

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