Will Hail Storms be a Repeat of Last Year

03/15/2017

Last year, the first massive hailstorm to strike Texas took place on March 17, pounding Fort Worth and Arlington with large hail and causing $600 million in insured losses.  More hailstorms struck the North Texas area later in March and again in April, and combined with other violent storms in 2016, it was the costliest hail and thunderstorm season on record.  We hope to avoid a repeat in 2017, but if so, the insurance industry is prepared to respond and help Texans recover after losses.

“Seasonal forecasting of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes is still in its infancy, so at present we have no way of knowing whether we will see a repeat of 2016 in 2017,” says Dr. Patrick Marsh, warning coordination meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.  “However, even if 2017 is an above normal or below normal year for severe thunderstorms, it only takes one hailstorm or tornado in the right place to make it an extremely costly year."

Severe thunderstorms blanketed the state starting in mid-March of last year and didn’t let up until the end of May.  An estimated 500,000 hail claims were ultimately filed by Texas homeowners in 2016 with insured losses in excess of $4 billion.

“Only Hurricane Ike in 2008 caused more storm losses than last year’s hailstorms,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas.  “Hurricane Ike caused $12 billion in insured losses, making it the costliest storm in Texas history.”

Along with a record $4 billion in hail losses for one year, the city of San Antonio set a record for the state’s costliest hailstorm.  On April 12, large hailstorms rumbled across northern Bexar County striking several communities, including the Alamo city, causing $1.4 billion in damage.  Two additional hailstorms struck the city by the end of the month raising the hail losses to $2 billion.

Up until last year the costliest hailstorm in Texas had occurred on May 5, 1995, when a hailstorm traveled more than 100 miles before dumping grapefruit size hail on Fort Worth, resulting in several injuries and causing $1.1 billion in insured losses.  

Not all of last year’s hailstorms occurred in the spring.  El Paso was rocked by a large hailstorm on November 4, damaging 40,000 cars and trucks and causing an estimated $200 million in insured losses.

 

2016                Wx Event       City                 Insured Losses

April 12           Hailstorm        San Antonio                  $1.4 billion

March 23         Hailstorm        Plano                           $700 million

March 17         Hailstorm        Ft. Worth/Arlington        $600 million

April 11            Hailstorm        Wylie                           $300 million

Nov. 4              Hailstorm        El Paso                        $200 million

 

Adding to the damage last year were reports that the hail was actually larger than in prior years.  Kylie Reising with the Wylie Insurance Agency would certainly attest to that.  Her home was pounded by softball size hail that burst through her roof and ceiling.  The entire Wylie school system was closed after the storm due to the extensive damage. 

At every city hit by the catastrophic hailstorms insurance companies sent their CAT response teams to the hardest hit neighborhoods to help expedite the large number of claims.  Many of the larger insurers offered mobile sites for motorists to bring their damaged vehicles in for inspection. 

If the weather turns violent in 2017, you can expect insurance companies to be among the first responders offering financial assistance to affected homeowners.