Does it seem like it is always hailing here in Colorado during the Spring through late summer? Have you noticed your car getting hit by hail no matter what you try to do? Well, it may not just be your imagination or personal bias because you had to get PDR on your car twice or more this Denver hail season. Recently scientists too have noticed an uptick in hail activity and corresponding damage in areas within “hail alley”, including Denver.
Where is Hail Alley?
The area labeled hail alley is considered the states east of the Rocky Mountains which get a significant amount of hail due to the mountain-influenced wind patterns and the change in humidity when wet air from the Gulf of Mexico hits the dry prairie landscape. This includes eastern Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana plus the Texas panhandle and western parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. While this area traditionally gets a lot of activity–there may be a pattern of increased hail activity beginning.
Increased Hail Activity In Hail Alley
Scientists now say destructive hailstorms within “hail alley” appear to be increasing. This is resulting in more frequent and greater property and crop damage and injuries to people and animals as well. But what exactly has happened that has scientists concerned?
- In 2019, extra-large hailstones (those measuring 3 inches or more in circumference) hit during storms in numerous states including Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas. This was reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.
- A total of 176 episodes of severe hail were reported in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming! This is severe hail, not just any hail event–which totaled significantly more.
- Just in Colorado Springs by itself, heavy hailstorms in 2016 and 2018 resulted in 66,467 claims, totaling almost $522 million, the insurance bureau reported.
When looking at the past three years, the number of insurance claims for hail damage spiked by 19 percent. So, we have reporting to match the anecdotal evidence that we are getting increasingly devastating hail. But, why is this happening? We will discuss this is part 2 of our Increasing Hail series.