Hail's destructive reach marched east in 2021, battering states not typically associated with high hail risk and affecting more properties than in 2020.
A new report, Understanding evolving hail risk, details Verisk's tracking and analysis of damaging hail events at properties in the continental United States in 2021. Using multiple advancements in the science of hail identification and dual-polarization radar data processing, our proprietary hail algorithm generates detailed data to help insurers better understand this dynamic peril.
So, what happened with hail in 2021? Here are four key takeaways.
1. Fewer storms but more properties affected:
There were fewer hailstorms in 2021 compared to 2020. Indeed, 2021's activity fell below the ten-year average for hailstorms in the continental United States. However, more than 6.8 million properties were affected by one or more damaging hailstorms, a nearly 10 percent increase from the 6.2 million properties affected in 2020.
2. Hail risk heads East:
Of the traditional "hail alley" states of Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming, only one—Colorado—cracked the top ten list of states with properties affected by hailstorms in 2021. Meanwhile, two East Coast states, Maryland and Pennsylvania, were in the top ten for the first time. One reason why more properties were exposed to hailstorms in 2021 is that these storms struck more populous regions. Hail alley may be transforming into a hail superhighway.
3. Hail keeps messing with Texas:
After a year of historic storms, Texas once again topped the list of states with the most properties affected by hail, and by a wide margin. In fact, Texas saw nearly 80,000 more properties affected by hail in 2021 compared to 2020. The state also recorded its largest hailstone ever, a 1.26-pound chunk of ice measuring 6.4-inch inches in diameter (basically, the size of a volleyball).1 Fortunately, it landed on the ground.
4. County-level impact varied:
The state of Ohio ranked third in terms of the total number of properties affected by hail, but Montgomery County, OH, had the highest total number of properties affected by hail of any county in 2021 at nearly 200,000. A full 81 percent of properties in the county, which includes Dayton and is the fifth most populous in the state, were affected by hail. On a percentage basis, Saline, Kansas, topped the list with an estimated 97 percent of properties in the county affected by hail last year.