Report: Colorado and Oklahoma Cities Dominate Top 10 Hail Prone Metro Areas

September 16, 2011

Metropolitan areas in Colorado and Oklahoma have the distinction of making up more than half the list of top 10 hail-prone areas in the U.S., according to a recently released study.

The list, which was compiled by CDS Business Mapping, LLC., a Boston-based online hazard mapping firm, puts three Colorado cities and three Oklahoma cities among the top in terms of risk of hail.

It’s top 10 hail-prone metro areas (population 50,000 plus) is based on the RiskMeter Online’s Hail Model, which predicts the frequency of hail storms for any location in the Continental U.S.

The top 10 hail-prone metro areas are:

Amarillo, Texas

Wichita, Kan.

Tulsa, Okla.

Oklahoma City, Okla.

Midwest City, Okla.

Aurora, Colo.

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Kansas City, Kan.

Fort Worth, Texas

Denver, Colo.

Hail events are a constant threat to auto and property and casualty insurers, and in a recently released study from Swiss Re it was been reported that five of the mostly costly U.S. based insurance losses of 2010 were hail-related events.  Even small hail stones have been known to shatter windows, smash roofs and leave pockmarks in siding, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“In 2010 there were over 10,000 hail storms that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses for insurers,” Daniel Munson, founder of RiskMeter Online said.

With RiskMeter’s hail report, users can enter an address and get frequency of hail events, percentile score which compares the address entered to the rest of the US, average number of hail storms for an area and a risk score.

The detailed information will provide a much clearer picture of hail risk, enabling underwriters to assess and price risk more accurately, said Munson.

The program uses data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Doppler radar, and it discerns patterns from that data to build a gridded model that calculates all the hailstorms within a 15-mile radius for the entire U.S.

The top areas are ranked category five. “To be category five, you get at least 15 storms a year,” Munson said. “Denver, for instance, might get 25 hailstorms a year.”

List topper Amarillo gets 35-plus hailstorms per year, according to RiskMeter.

Among the data is also hail size. “Some companies don’t worry about hail less than an inch and a half,” Munson said.

Aside from insurance on residential and commercial properties, insurers of businesses exposed to the elements or insurers of those at greatest risk of being impacted from falling hail tend to use the program, Munson said.

“Car dealers use our hail scores to figure out how risky the area is for hail,” he said, adding that greenhouses and those who insure such operations are also regular users.

While Colorado slipped into the list with three of the top 10 metro areas at risk of hail, most of the risk is east of the Rocky Mountains when the cold dry air coming over the Rockies meets the warm, moist air from the Gulf, according to Munson.

“As far as scoring, in the West, there’s really nothing in general to be worried about,” Munson said, adding that another disaster-wreaking weather engine acts much the same way as hail. “The patterns for hail and tornadoes are similar but they don’t match exactly.”

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