AccuWeather Global Weather Center – April 29, 2021 – Tornadoes often grab the most headlines, but, "hailstorms tend to produce the most damage from an insurance claim perspective of any type of severe storm,” AccuWeather Senior Vice President and Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. “On average, that is between $10 billion and $15 billion of insured loss.”
Porter said this particular event looks to be one that will easily exceed the billion-dollar threshold for damages. “The total damage and economic loss caused by Wednesday's hailstorms are predicted to be about $3.5 billion,” Porter said.
“To put the economic toll of these storms into context," Porter continued, "AccuWeather’s estimate for Hurricane Isaias, a Category 1 storm that struck the Caribbean and moved up the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. in July and August of 2020, was $3 billion to $5 billion. It is yet another in a series of $1 billion plus weather disasters.”
AccuWeather bases its analyses on incorporating independent methods to evaluate all direct and indirect impacts of the storm and is based on a variety of sources, statistics and unique techniques AccuWeather uses to estimate damage. The estimate includes damage to homes, businesses and cars, job and wage losses, automobile crashes and medical expenses, power outages and school closures. The estimate also accounts for the costs of cleanup operations.
“These storms were particularly notable and the damage significant because of its impact on three separate major metropolitan areas that were each densely populated – all on the same evening within the matter of a few hours," Porter said. "When you have the combination of large hail and cities with large numbers of homes and businesses, the losses add up fast.”
A window was shattered and a blind severely damaged after hail pelted a home in Norman, Oklahoma. (Twitter/ @marekcornett)
Communities around Norman, Oklahoma, and San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas, were hit the hardest by the storms, forcing residents to take shelter inside as the massive hail bombarded the areas.
In Hondo, Texas, located west of San Antonio, hailstones rivaled the size of grapefruits, reaching roughly 4 inches in diameter. In Norman, hail ranged from the size of golf balls to baseballs.
The hail was flying with such ferocity that windows of homes were shattered and, in some cases, caused damage inside.
One resident in Haslet, Texas, located near Fort Worth, recorded a video of hail creating waves in the backyard swimming pool while the sound of glass shattering could be heard in the background as chunks of ice knocked out windows.
The aftermath was evident all across the three cities in the wake of the storms, especially at parking lots and car dealerships where vehicles were left out in the elements.
“Oh my God,” one person exclaimed upon seeing damage to vehicles up close after the storm had passed. “Yours is shattered too,” they told another car owner that was nearby.
Photos and videos of damage and giant hailstones flooded social media. One person posting on Twitter shared two images -- one of a hailstone that appeared to be about softball-sized alongside a photo of the hole that, the Twitter user said, the giant piece of hail blew through the ceiling of a friend's home in Sabinal, about 60 miles west of San Antonio.
Hail that was two inches or larger fell over 6,441 square miles combined across Texas and Oklahoma, an area that roughly 1.1 million people call home. For context, the size of Connecticut is 5,543 square miles.
Hailstones that were larger than golf balls fell near Norman, Oklahoma, on April 28, 2021. (Twitter/ @NrdyBrdr)
The weather in the Plains on Wednesday was “nearly the perfect setup for severe storms with hail,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger said.
“There was plenty of energy in the atmosphere, 'fuel' from sunshine, warm conditions and moisture flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico,” he explained. “The end result was very large, damaging hailstones in Texas and Oklahoma.”
“It’s not a surprising event to get big hail storms this time of the year across Texas and Oklahoma," Deger added, "but what was remarkable about it was that we had the intersection of big hail storms in areas where there are a lot of people and businesses."
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