Weather Wednesday – Hail

On this April Fools Day, we’ll be discussing hail. Hail is widespread throughout the world, but doesn’t often have the top of mind awareness of other storm-related topics…unless, that is, you’re growing crops or insuring buildings or vehicles. According to the National Weather Service’s hail page, the average loss from hail each year is about a billion dollars. However, in 2001 there was one storm event that eventually stretched from Kansas City to Illinois that caused $2-billion damage on a single day.

Hail is not normally considered a major threat to human life. The last reported fatality in the United States was in 2000 when a Texas man died after being struck by a softball sized hail stone. Two children reportedly perished in Russia in 2014. Livestock losses are reported from time to time.

The National Weather Service rates hail from less than a quarter inch or pea sized to over 4 inches or softball sized. The preferred references are actual measurements or approximations based on fixed sizes such as a quarter or a regulation sized softball. “Grapefruit sized” is a far less precise term. One of the reasons for using common objects as references is it allows storm spotters and others to report the size without venturing out into a storm with its associated risks to take actual measurements.

vivian_hailThe largest hail stone reported in the U.S was over 8 inches in diameter with a circumference of over 18 inches.

Phil Katz-MSU Extension

Crop loss from hail is a significant risk to producers. Depending on where crops are in the growth cycle and the extent of the damage, growers are often cautioned to have a little patience to determine if the crops can bounce back. Many state extension services can provide more information.


hail carDamage to vehicles is usually pretty obvious in terms of dents and broken glass. There are some DIY fixes for smaller dents including letting the vehicle sit in the hot sun so the metal expands a bit. The best advice though is to contact your insurance carrier and/or a competent body shop. A worst case scenario is when a new car dealer’s lot or other parking lot is hit. Damage can easily escalate into six figures or more. Several years ago here in the Champaign-Urbana area, dozens and dozens of cars parked at the local airport were badly damaged.

thHail can also damage roofs constructed of various materials. Again, working with your insurance carrier to arrange for an inspection by a qualified roofer is always a good idea. Some damage may be hard for the untrained eye to see and ladder work is often best left to professionals anyway.

Siding on homes also can be easily damaged. Steel or aluminum siding can be dented and still maintain its structural and weatherproof integrity.Bad_Siding_Hail_Damage Hail can absolutely shred vinyl siding and immediate action to cover exposed underlayment or insulation is necessary to avoid more widespread water damage.



NOAA Graphic

One question that is often asked is, does the presence of hail, especially large hail, tell us anything about the structure of a thunderstorm? Since hail is formed when water droplets freeze as they are lifted above the 32-degree line by updrafts, it stands to reason that the presence of ever larger hail stones in a storm reflects the strength of that updraft so it can be an indicator of both the strength and height of a thunderstorm cell. Hail is easily seen on radar because of its dense mass. Many videos shot by storm chasers show large hail as part of some tornadic thunderstorms.

Summer 2014 EDEN Newsletter

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From the EDEN Chair

Untitled-1As I write this on June 3 the monthly test of our tornado warning sirens is underway even as we are looking at a significant chance for severe weather during the overnight and early morning hours today and tomorrow. On top of that, the local paper has an article on Habitat for Humanity building three homes in Gifford, Illinois which was heavily damaged by a tornado on November 17 and I spent part of the weekend in Washington, Illinois, my home town, which was devastated by an EF-4 tornado on the same day.

With the harsh winter behind us, rebuilding is underway in earnest in both of those towns. 500 of an expected 1,000 or so building permits have been issued in Washington where the biggest current problem is keeping contractor trailers from blocking streets. Both towns await an announcement about state aid since federal public assistance funds were denied under the formula that penalizes small communities in states with large population centers.

All of this is prelude to a reflection on the remarkable strides made by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) over the past decade or two. Back in November, we were alerted by the SPC four days out that there was likely to be an unprecedented, possibly tornadic, event for that late in November. This Spring the SPC has unveiled enhanced four to eight day outlooks. These tools assist local National Weather Service offices, commercial weather services, broadcast meteorologists, emergency managers, weather geeks like myself, and others as they prepare.

But, all of the tools in the world don’t make much difference if individuals do not ACT on the information. Recent research after the Joplin tornadoes indicates that it takes multiple –perhaps as many as 8 or 10 or more– messages and verification of messages before people take action. There’s a lot of “noise” as people receive multiple messages on many different topics each day. But now, as we enter hurricane season and brace for our summer thunderstorms, wildfires and other threats, is a good time to look through the clutter, pay attention to the vital messages and do what we can to protect ourselves, our families and our property.  — Rick Atterberry

 In this Issue

Summer Animal Diseases

Vesicular Stomatitis

Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) is a virus that affects horses, cattle, swine, sheep, goats and some wildlife species. Vesicular Stomatitis is easily recognized by blisters (vesicles) that may occur in the mouth, nose, lips, tongue, coronary bands of the hooves or around the teats and genitalia of animals. This disease tends to spread across the western United States with warm weather and if present is usually seen in the southern states first and may occur along rivers and streams. It is not known exactly how the virus overwinters but that flies appear to be common vector.

Vesicular Stomatitis on the tongue of a horse
Photo by Dr. Jeanne Rankin

The majority of animals infected with VS will not die, but its occurrence can be a highly economically devastating disease due to loss in milk production or loss of weight due to pain and discomfort when eating or drinking. Vesicular Stomatitis is a reportable disease to state and federal animal health officials and mimics the clinical signs of Foot and Mouth Disease and Swine Vesicular Disease. A specially trained veterinarian known as a Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician will be called out to take samples and conduct an epidemiological investigation to complete the diagnosis. Infected animals should be housed a distance away from non-clinical animals and their movement restricted until signs of disease are gone and the chance of infecting other animals has passed, usually 21 days after the lesions have healed.

Closeup of  Vesicular Stomatitis on mouth of horse
Photo by Dr. Jeanne Rankin

Although VS is considered endemic in the United States it is an international reportable disease, resulting in movement restrictions of U.S. animals by other states and our international trading partners when a new diagnosis is made. At this writing only two counties in Texas have been diagnosed as having new cases of Vesicular Stomatitis.

For more information please visit the USDA:

United States Animal Health Association “The Gray Book” Vesicular Stomatitis,  see pages 423-429

Written for EDEN by Jeanne M. Rankin, DVM, Agro-Emergency Projects Coordinator, Montana State University Extension. You can contact her via email ( or phone (406-465-5142)

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Webinars & Events

Upcoming Webinars & Events
Webinar Archives

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Featured Resources

  • EDEN’s Hurricane Resources
  • Ready Wrigley 
    Brought to you by Office of Public Preparedness and Response within the CDC, Ready Wrigley Prepares for Hurricanes is an activity book available in English and Spanish. It tells how Ready Wrigley helps her family get ready for a hurricane and then what they do during and after the storm.
    FLASH (Federal Alliance for Safe Homes) offers Pick-A_Peril series of videos. This set is about how to prepare your house for hurricanes. Be sure to also check out the other perils found on the site.
  • How can I reduce the risk of a tree falling on my house during a storm?
    eXtension provides resources such as this to help you learn what you can do to protect your property from storm damage.
  • LSU AgCenter has a series of disaster information fact sheets for agriculture producers.

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Spring 2014 EDEN Newsletter

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As this issue of the newsletter highlights some of EDEN’s flood resources, I am reminded of something I came to realize several years ago.  For many of you this won’t be a surprise, but I started to draw parallels between river flooding, as opposed to flash flooding, and droughts.  Both of the events tend to build over time and take an exceptional emotional toll because those affected are generally powerless to do anything to change the outcome.  I contrast that with the tornado recovery in Gifford and Washington, IL which I have been observing since November 17.  At a simplistic level, the tornado strikes, survivors are accounted for and the clean-up and rebuilding begins often in just a day or two.  That’s not to say that there isn’t an emotional toll with the tornadoes.   There certainly is the loss of cherished possessions, upheaval in your life and the frustration of dealing with the government and insurers; but it seems different.  The light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is pretty much there from the start in a tornado.  With river floods and droughts, it is rarely apparent that recovery is around the corner until the water starts to drop or there are several consecutive months of good rain.  Regardless of our particular field of expertise, we all need to be aware of the emotional needs of those we are attempting to assist.  EDEN has some resources in this area.  We could always use more, so if you have some, get in touch.   Here’s to a safe Spring for all.

– Rick Atterberry

In this Issue

A Note from the EDEN Flood NEIL 

Even though there is some focus on flooding during the spring melt, flooding occurs during the entire year. It may be from a rapid snow melt following a heavy snow storm or a heavy rain event. The EDEN Flood NEIL is continuing to develop resources for both the EDEN and eXtension websites. An extensive cataloging of online resources has been completed and will be tagged on the EDEN website when its revision is completed. The eXtension flood site is being updated. These tasks will gain momentum this summer when the North Dakota State University Emergency Management graduate student will commit more time to the effort.  Fortunately the current NOAA snow water map does not show areas with water levels that would be expected to contribute to significant spring flooding.  The flooding potential map shows only scattered locations with a 50% probability or greater of moderate flooding and only a few locations with minor flooding at a 75% probability. Get specific information for your area by clicking on the NWS River Forecast Center for your area.

– Ken Hellevang

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EDEN NEIL Responds to Drought

The drought that started for most of the U.S. in 2012 quietly rages on for more than one-third of the country in 2014. The National EDEN Issue Leadership team is still partnering with other national agencies and organizations to address drought issues.

Drought Forum

The NEIL is co-sponsoring a monthly Adobe connect sessions with National VOAD providing a conference line for a show and tell on the latest drought situation. Extension and emergency managers and volunteers from as many as 15 states have participated in the forum.

Drought Program

The EDEN homeland Security Project still has funds for a few communities to pilot the Community Capacity-Building Program for Drought Response.

Drought Matrix

Leaders from the NEIL are working with federal partners to develop a web-based tool for communities and the ag industry to better understand federal resources to prepare for our respond to drought. Contact Steve Cain for more information.

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Upcoming Events

March 7, 2014
All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Straight Talk about Termites
1:00 PM Central Time Add to Calendar

March 20, 2014
Common Consumer Frauds & How to Avoid Them
10:00 AM Central Time Add to Calendar

April 4, 2014
All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Get TickSmart: 10 Things to Know, 5 Things to Do
10:00 AM Central Time Add to Calendar

April 25, 2014
Amy Dronberger will discuss her research findings about local disaster/emergency planning teams during this 60-minute session titled Building Rural Resiliency: Who Should Help? What Should They Do?
1:00 PM Central Time 
Add to Calendar

May 2, 2014
All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Are Those Itsy Bitsy Spiders Good or Bad?
1:00 PM Central Time Add to Calendar

May 30, 2014
Join Glenn Muske, NDSU Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development specialist during his presentation, Survive or Struggle: Your Choice in a Business Disaster.
1:00 PM Central Time Add to Calendar

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Featured Disaster Resources 

EDEN Website
National Drought Mitigation Center
eXtension Website

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PEDv Outbreak Update

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) made a surprise appearance in the United States in spring 2013. Caused by a distant (viral) cousin of Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE), the disease presents similarly with rapid dehydration resulting in a high percentage of deaths in young piglets.During the first half of February 2014, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana accounted for the sources of the most new positive test results reported through the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. Since June 2013 the number of states affected has climbed from 14 to 25 as of February 2014. READ MORE