Hail is often associated with intense thunderstorms. Both can happen suddenly and be highly destructive. Efforts to mitigate against hail include reducing the risk to property through education, emergency preparedness and insurance. Hail is formed when rain is carried up into the atmosphere, freezes and combines with other ice pieces and then falls. Hail can vary in size from as small as a pea to larger than a softball. All hail can be destructive to crops and property.
The time of year and areas most impacted by hail are illustrated below. Hail occurrences recorded between 1982 and 2006 peak in June, July and August – the warmest months of the year (Figure 1). The areas with most recorded severe hail events, between 1978 and 2000, are in the south-central portion of the province (Figure 2).
The 1990s were severe years for hail, particularly 1994 (Figure 3). For 1994, the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation received 15,659 hail claims and paid out approximately $41M.
According to the Canadian Disaster Database, other major hailstorms occurred across the western prairies in 1971, and in the vicinity of Cedoux in1973 (north of Weyburn), and Regina in 1995. The largest documented hailstone in Canada fell in the 1973 storm. It was 114 mm in diameter, just over the size of a softball, and weighed 290 grams.
In 2008, one of the contributing factors to crop yield loss was hail. Saskatchewan registered 99 severe hail events – more than double the average of 43 (1991 to 2007). In 2010, the province also experienced a large number of hail storms resulting in crop damage.
2007 was a bad year for summer storms impacting on property. SGI Canada received a total of 4400 claims resulting from a combination of hail, wind and basement flooding at a total cost of approximately $23.1 million. This includes hail damage to structures and roofs with asphalt shingles.
Actions that can be taken to minimize the risk and mitigate the effects of hail include:
- continue improvements to forecasting and warning capability.
- learn to recognize weather patterns and cloud formations that may develop into a thunderstorms and/or result in hail.
- shield property from hail damage. Put valuables such as vehicles under cover, in garages or sheds.
- Purchase insurance in high risk areas.
- Environment Canada (n.d.): Hail - Atmospheric Hazards – Prairie and Northern Region http://pnr.hazards.ca/hail.html http://pnr.hazards.ca/images/sk_hail_occ_month.png[accessed February 6, 2011]
- Environment Canada (n.d.): Hazardous Weather http: //www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=En&n=15E59C08-1 [accessed December 4, 2010]
- Government of Saskatchewan (1995): Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Responding to Hail Claims. http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=ebb70dae-2094-4fcb-9abc-f93922a8efab [accessed February 20, 2011]
- Government of Saskatchewan (2009): Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation Annual Report. http://www.saskcropinsurance.com/Default.aspx?DN=c18b524a-05f7-495e-a1c7-50ab81969661 [accessed February 20, 2011]
- Public Safety Canada (2010): Canadian Disaster Database http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/prg/em/cdd/srch-eng.aspx [accessed February 8, 2011]
- SGI Canada (2007): Striving Towards Our Vision 2007 SGI Canada Annual Report http://www.sgicanada.ca/pdfs/annual/2007/2007annualreport.pdf [accessed February 20, 2011]