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How to Prepare for Hail in Virginia

How will your Virginia home withstand a severe hailstorm? Find out what your hail risk is and what you can do now to protect your home from the worst hail damage.

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When a hailstorm happens in Virginia, severe weather can cause significant damage. However, the preparations you do long before a hailstorm can help you avoid the worst outcomes.

The 2019 hailstorm in Roanoke is a notable example many area residents will remember well. During the summer storm, hail up to two inches in diameter fell. This was combined with lightning and very heavy rain. In some areas, three to four inches of rain fell in a few hours. The result of the storm was property damage from hail, flash flooding, a barn destroyed by wind, and an apartment fire caused by a lightning strike.

Find out what you can do to be better prepared for a Virginia hailstorm.

Where in Virginia Is Most Likely to Have Hailstorms?

In a typical storm, hail falls between 25 to 40 mph, and in strong supercells, ice can be falling as fast as 100 mph. Hail requires specific weather conditions, and weather patterns mean it’s more likely to occur in some areas than others. 

To find out the areas of Virginia where hail is most common, we looked at NOAA storm data to find out the number of hailstorms that occurred during 2018, 2019, and 2020. When locations tied for the number of hailstorms, we ranked the counties by the average size of hailstones because larger hail is generally more damaging. 

Hailstorm Rank Virginia County Number of Hailstorms in Three Years
1Fairfax15
2Frederick13
3Augusta12
4Albemarle 12
5Chesterfield12
6Bedford12
7Franklin9
8Pittsylvania 8
9Amherst 8
10Dickenson7

This data shows that hail can occur anywhere including Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Appomattox. The top-ranking county is Fairfax, located in the Washington, D.C., metro area in the northeastern part of the state. In the mountains of the western part of the state, the areas of Staunton and Charlottesville are also prone to hailstorms.

Forward-thinking homeowners can prepare their homes to withstand hail damage. Fortunately, many of these home improvements serve multiple functions in the longevity of your home, and hail preparedness can also sync with flood preparation, hurricane preparedness, and snowmelt protection

Follow these 10 tips to protect your home from hail damage. 

1. Maintain Trees

During a hailstorm, the wind and ice can cause weak trees and dead branches to crash into your roof, windows, or siding. Proactive tree maintenance can help you remove landscape problems before they become an issue during a storm. 

Trim or remove any trees that could be a threat, and remember that keeping trees far away from your home can serve a dual purpose of preventing tree damage to your foundation and protecting your home from storm damage. 

2. Check Insurance Coverage

Your homeowner’s insurance policy can give you financial protection against unexpected damages, such as an $8,000 roof repair bill. Check your insurance policy to make sure you’re covered for hail and note any exclusions, such as cosmetic damage. Your policy may also have a separate deductible amount for wind and hail claims. 

If you’re concerned about severe weather damage, adding a flood insurance policy can protect your home from weather-related flooding, such as heavy rain, overflowing rivers, coastal erosion, and hurricane storm surge. 

3. Perform Roof Maintenance or Upgrades

Your roof will take the most impact from a hailstorm, damaging the surface, tearing shingles from the roof, washing away aggregate, and reducing the lifespan of the roof. To help avoid damage, perform regular roof maintenance to secure any loose singles, remove moss or mildew, and re-caulk flashings. 

When it’s time to replace your roof, choosing impact-resistant materials with Class 3 or Class 4 shingles can give you the most protection, and these options may also give you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance. 

4. Modify Windows to be Impact Resistant

During a hailstorm, glass surfaces on windows, doors, and skylights are especially vulnerable. Homeowners have a few options for adding protection. Adding exterior shutters can protect the glass from impact and wind, and installing impact-resistant windows can reduce the likelihood of damage. 

Homeowners can also install interior conversions such as drapes or shades to protect occupants from flying shards of glass if the windows are broken during a hailstorm. 

5. Check for a Leaning or Cracking Chimney

An unstable chimney can topple or shear during a severe storm of wind, hail, and rain. Before a major storm, the structure of your chimney should be strong and stable. 

Look for signs of weakness by checking your chimney to see if it’s separating from your house, leaning, or cracking. Spotting chimney problems now can help you avoid a bigger repair after a storm where thousands of pounds of brick fall unpredictably. 

6. Improve Gutters and Drainage

A hailstorm can sometimes be accompanied by a torrential downpour. Our rain calculations for gutters reveal that when just one inch of rain falls on an average-sized home, gutters need to manage nearly 1,000 gallons of water. Without effective drainage, all of that water can end up flooding your basement or crawl space or damage your foundation.

The best water management practices include cleaning your gutters, adding downspouts, installing drainage, and using gutters that are properly sized to your home. Lightweight aluminum gutters can easily be dented by hail or mangled by wind, and upgrading to sturdier materials can help you be prepared for severe weather. Installing a sump pump can also help you quickly address any water issues because it can automatically start pumping as soon as water is detected. 

7. Install Carport or Car Protection

A hailstorm can dent cars and shatter windshields, and the average cost of vehicle damage is $2,500. The safest place for your car is in a garage, but homeowners who don’t have a garage can still protect their vehicles from ice and falling debris by adding carports or other types of car protection. 

8. Add Hail Cover to HVAC System

An outdoor air conditioning unit is exposed to falling hail, and the fragile condenser coil can be easily damaged or dented. If you don’t already have a hail cover on your HVAC system, the unit’s manufacturer typically offers these protective add-ons to help you extend the life of your HVAC unit and reduce repairs. 

9. Protect Roof Vents

Hail can also damage your rooftop exhaust systems or vents for the water heater or clothes dryer. If these vents become clogged or damaged, fumes or carbon monoxide could build up in your home. To help roof vents withstand storms, perform regular maintenance, including checking water seals and making sure caps and covers are securely in place. You may also be able to install hail guards to protect your vents from damage. 

10. Upgrade to Hail-resistant Siding

In many cases, one or two sides of a home will be damaged during a hailstorm because directional winds will be blowing the ice as it falls. This will result in siding that’s dimpled, cracked, or broken. Vinyl siding is more likely to be damaged, and impact-resistant siding materials can help you protect your home. When it’s time to upgrade your siding, look for fiber cement, engineered wood, and steel options, and check the impact resistance reports to see how much protection they give you. 

Severe weather can happen anytime, and JES Foundation Repair can help you prepare. Find out the best ways to protect your home with a free inspection.