Colorado hail is responsible for causing more home insurance claims than any other event in the state. The good news is that not all hail damage is completely devastating, yet with rising costs for labor and materials, the expense you’ll face continues to hurt pocketbooks more each year.
Then there are vehicles. A roof might serve its purpose on your home to protect the rest of your family but even quarter-sized hail i enough to cause serious damage to your vehicle. A new paint job and fixing the dints alone can run you several thousands of dollars in body shop expenses.
This doesn’t even take into account the time your vehicle will be out of the shop, the extra damage your home’s roof may become susceptible to when the damage is serious enough, and the many other inconveniences that cost you stress and money.
Hail season in Colorado may not be the only time you’ll face such perils, but there is an uptick in risk during these months. Learn more about the hail storms residents of the Centennial State have to contend with, how to stay protected, and the right coverage to help you restore potential losses all year round.
When Is Hail Season in Colorado?
Colorado hail season lasts from April 15 to September 15, and during this time, hail storms are most common in June and highly destructive in mid-June. But don’t think that Colorado hail isn’t a legitimate threat outside of these months or outside of the most popular places for residents to experience such weather events.
In southeastern Colorado, particularly Pueblo, August experiences the worst hail month. Hailstones ranging from one to two inches in diameter, falling at speeds up to 80 miles per hour, are frequent in eastern Colorado during the summer but over limited areas. In northeastern Colorado, stones as large as 4.5 inches have been observed, causing significant damage, including penetrating roofs.
Hailing in Colorado has resulted in deaths and numerous injuries. Hail also occurs frequently in the high mountains during summer, but these stones are typically small and soft, causing minimal damage by comparison.
When there are thunderstorms that cause raindrops to go higher in elevation due to updrafts, they can freeze. This is due to the colder temperatures in higher atmospheres. If it can happen across the country, then it’s no wonder hail forms easily in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Water continues to collide with each other at these frigid temperatures until eventually freezing into cloudy pieces of ice. The slow freezing allows air to be trapped inside and hail to form. When they become too heavy to stay up due to updrafts brought on by the thunderstorms or when the drafts die down, they fall to the ground much to our dismay.
Colorado hail has layers of clear and cloudy ice due to varying temperatures and water content. Larger hail falls closer to the updraft, and wind-driven hail can cause severe damage and injury.
How Long Is Hail Season in Colorado?
There are five months in which you are more likely to see a Colorado hail storm, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the year is safe. You should be prepared all year long, particularly as weather patterns change throughout Colorado, for the potential of hail. Furthermore, even in colder months, particularly fall and spring, there are other similar threats to your home and vehicle.
What Is Graupel in Colorado?
Graupel is soft, small pellets formed by freezing supercooled water droplets onto snow crystals through riming. Typically, it remains very small (less than 0.2 inches in size) and is also known as snow pellets or soft hail because it breaks apart easily.
Not to be confused with sleet, which consists of small ice particles resulting from the freezing of liquid water drops like rain. Sleet also occurs during winter storms in Colorado. This happens when snow melts in the air and refreezes before reaching the ground.
In thunderstorms, sleet can form above the melting level when supercooled cloud droplets freeze upon contact with other cloud particles or debris. Sleet is also called ice pellets, which is why there can be some confusion when it comes to sleet and graupel.
Graupel vs. Hail in Colorado
Both graupel and hail can cause damage to your home’s roof, but they have distinct characteristics and effects that will affect how this damage will likely come about. Because Colorado hail is larger and harder, it’s also capable of causing more significant damage to your roof. Hailing in Colorado can crack, break, or dent roofing materials like shingles, tiles, or metal sheets.
Furthermore, severe hailstorms may lead to extensive roof damage, resulting in leaks, water intrusion, and the need for repairs or replacements. It can also lead to damage to other parts of your home if there is heavy wind, such as your windows.
Graupel damage is usually not as severe, because of the nature of its makeup. Although graupel is not as likely to cause severe roof damage, it can still exacerbate existing issues.
When graupel accumulates and then melts, water runoff can infiltrate vulnerable areas, potentially causing leaks in roofs already in poor condition. The same as hail, which can also cause leaky roofs, damage from weight, etc.
After any significant weather event involving hail or graupel, inspect your roof for signs of damage such as missing or broken shingles, dents, cracks, or other visible changes.
Timely repairs and maintenance are crucial to prevent further damage and extend the roof’s lifespan. If you suspect significant damage, it’s also important to understand that you have a responsibility to fix the damage as well as you can when it is safe to do so.
While you will need to consult a professional roofing contractor for a thorough assessment and recommended repairs or replacements, your home insurance carrier won’t accept your claim if you don’t take action to prevent damage from getting worse in the meantime.
It’s important to think about safety first and to document the loss, but preventing damage from hail, sleet, or graupel is also critical.
Measuring Colorado Hail and Its History of Destructive Force
Hail reports in Colorado can range greatly and depending on the size, you could be facing some steep repair bills. Here is how the National Weather Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) categorizes hail in Colorado:
- ¼ of an inch is considered pea size hail.
- ½ of an inch is most commonly called mothball-sized hail, although USB plug or peanut will also work.
- ¾ of an inch is known as penny size hail.
- ⅞ of an inch is nickel size hail.
- 1 inch is quarter-size hail.
- 1 and ¼ inches is half-dollar-sized hail.
- 1 and ½ inch hail is considered ping pong ball size.
- 1 and ¾ inch hail is golf ball size.
- 2 inches is lime or medium-sized hen egg hail.
- 2 and ½ inch hail is tennis ball size.
- 2 and ¾ inch hail is baseball size.
- 3 inches is considered large apple size.
- 4 inches is considered softball-sized hail
- 4 and ½ inch hail is considered grapefruit.
Anything larger than this has a shot at the record and should be kept in a freezer along with a notification to the NWS. In 2019, history was made near Bethune, CO, as hail measuring 4.83 inches in diameter.
Some of the most destructive hail storms in Colorado have been in more recent times. For example, the following data about Colorado hail are reminders of how destructive the weather event can be:
- The last decade of claims has seen $5 billion+ in damage.
- Known as Hail Alley, residents living near the Colorado/Nebraska/Wyoming borders can expect 7 to 9 days of hail each year.
- Denver residents may not see as much hail, but it’s costly when it happens. In fact, many of the most expensive hail storms in Colorado would affect the Mile High City.
- But hail in Colorado Springs has also proven to be costly with a storm equating more than $2.2 billion in damages affecting the area in 2017.
- Additionally, during a period of time in which the United States is seeing an increase in hail overall, while Colorado doesn’t have the most claims, that would be Texas, it still ranks second overall.
The threat of hail season in Colorado is all too real and continues to evolve over time, as evidenced by the hail storm in Estes Park, Colorado. Thankfully, options for protection are available to help your home, personal property, and vehicle stand up to one of the more annoying weather events affecting the state.
Protecting Your Home From Colorado Hail
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we are kind of all at the mercy of what nature is going to do. But with that being said, there are still steps you can take as a driver and/or vehicle owner, that can help you overcome hail damage. To begin, let’s take a look at the ways homeowners can combat hailing in Colorado:
- First and foremost, you’re going to need to choose a type of roof that can withstand hail damage. This means having a new roof or one in good operating condition. Preferably, a roof with Class 4 shingles or made of metal.
- Additionally, having windows and other parts of your home that are capable of taking the impact can help mitigate damage. Storm shutters are popular in areas for hurricanes but can be great additions to homes looking to prevent hail damage as well. Hail-resistant siding is also an option.
- Hail storms can also cause damage from falling trees. Be sure to keep the trees near your home trimmed to prevent further damage.
- Your home’s HVAC units can also have hail guards and covers installed for such occasions.
- If your gutters are clear and working properly, this will help displace weight off of your roof and water away from your home. Again, away from your home. Make sure your gutters aren’t working against you by flowing the wrong way.
- While not completely related to hail, it’s important to remember that severe thunderstorms with high winds often create hail. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure that things outside your home that are loose can be secured before gusts pick up.
Colorado Hail Season Car Protection Tips
During hail season in Colorado, to protect cars, you’ll need to have a plan. Such is the case year-round from a variety of potential perils, but as the Centennial State is known for its excessive hail threats, here are some helpful ways to keep your vehicle in working order:
- Having a garage is going to go a long way in making sure your vehicle is protected. The same can be said about a carport, but a garage is best, especially seeing as hail may come from the side.
- If you don’t have a garage, car covers and blankets are an alternative. These covers are padded and can help minimize damage. Though not ideal, depending on the size of the hail you may be able to protect your vehicle. There are also car covers for emergencies such as this that are portable and may help.
- Seeking shelter in public spaces is another option when it’s safe to do so. When a hailstorm is approaching and you are driving, try to find shelter in covered public spaces such as parking garages, gas stations, or large shopping centers.
- Getting ahead of the game is important. While it can be difficult to completely prove when Colorado hail will strike, watching weather forecasts and paying attention to alerts can go a long way in having a game plan.
Remember that hailstorms can occur suddenly, so it’s essential to have a plan in place and act quickly to protect your vehicle when severe weather is approaching. Taking preventive measures and staying informed about weather conditions will help reduce the risk of hail damage to your vehicle in Colorado.
How To Stay Insured Against Colorado Hail Damage
Generally, hail reports in Colorado continue to become more and more interesting. Now more than ever, protecting against hail damage has become an important part of any resident’s life. This includes homeowners, renters, drivers, etc. Here are the insurance policies you’ll need to restore your losses:
- If you’re a homeowner, you’ll need a home insurance policy. Most standard home insurance coverage (HO3) will provide adequate protection for your home, garage, and even detached garages in the event of hail, sleet, snow, etc. For those with condos, a condo insurance policy is there to help protect you.
- Drivers also need car insurance coverage, but it’s important for a specific type of policy. This means that you’ll need more than liability coverage. Specifically, you’ll need to have a comprehensive car insurance policy, which protects against weather-based perils.
- Those who are renting will need to secure a renters insurance policy to protect their personal property.
- RV insurance and motorcycle insurance policies are available to operate in a similar manner to auto coverage. If you secure comprehensive coverage, you’ll be protected against Colorado hail. The same goes for boat insurance.
As you can see, over a wide range of options, when it comes to hail damage in Colorado, you have options. But if you want to be sure that you are protected for the best possible price available, you’ll need to shop around and compare your coverages. We can help.
Since 2005, the goal of Freedom Insurance Group is to help people protect themselves from notable financial losses through affordable coverage offered by top-rated carriers. Through our partnerships, clients often save 40% on average because we locate the right personalized coverages for their needs at the lowest cost on the market.
Colorado hail continues to be a growing challenge but affordable coverage is available. Contact us at the number above, or use our online tools for a free auto insurance quote or home insurance quote today!