I was unfortunate enough to be caught in the freaky hail storm that hit Gauteng’s eastern suburbs last Saturday. My car took some damage but not as much as some of my neighbours (I moved it damn quickly into the garage), its in for repairs already.
My next door neighbour lost every single window on the one side of her house and her car’s windscreen was also smashed along with a portion of the dashboard. The insurance companies are up in arms and Dial Direct claims to have received 3200 claims in the space of 12 hours after the event. PG Glass and the like claims to have ran out of windows and windscreens by Tuesday afternoon.
The freakyness is the size of the stones. The size of the palm of my hand and I cannot close my fist around it.
In certain meteorological circumstances called a “supercell”, the updraft that can cause ordinary hailstones to form has a strong rotational component as well (a bit like a tornado), and this radically increases the weather cell’s ability to raise the forming hailstones and keep them aloft. As a result, the residence time of the hailstones in the weather cell increases, and therefore the time available for their growth by accretion also increases, producing much larger hailstones.
Basically, it’s stronger updraft winds in a weather cell’s upper regions keeping the hail up there for longer so that it gets bigger.
On one of my jumps we exited the plane (a C130 so it was a high jump) in hail. Don’t know how big the stones were but my goggles got knocked off my face, we were in the hail for a short time, then it turned to rain, and by the time we had to pull there were no drops. We landed in sunshine. We must have been going down faster than the drops because we were hit in our faces. (maybe the drops were going up to form the hail higher up or was it hail that melted to form rain in warmer, lower altitude?) On another (a dare) rain jump (this was only about 12 seconds freefall) my terminal velocity was only slightly faster than the raindrops. Granted, on that jump I was only at full speed for a few seconds.
You’re lucky you weren’t caught up in one of 'em supercells, causing you to oscillate vertically for several minutes and acquiring layer upon layer of frost, just to finally drop as a giant nylon icicle through Faerie’s windshield. Brrrr.
Short-term insurers estimate the total damage caused by floods in the Eastern Cape and a hail storm on the East Rand to be between R500m and R1bn.
Santam: Up to Friday claims for damage to 1 000 vehicles had been submitted and the total cost of repairs is estimated at R28m. The company received 400 claims for damage resulting from the floods in the Eastern Cape, which damage is expected to cost R35m.
Mutual & Federal: So far 1 244 claims have been received for damage to homes and vehicles on the East Rand which is expected to cost R24.4m, and 211 claims resulting from floods in the Eastern Cape amounting to an estimated R15.2m.
OUTsurance: About 6 000 claims have been received for damage to vehicles. The estimated value of the claims for damage to houses, garden furniture and vehicles is between R90m and R100m.
Dial Direct: Up to 3 300 claims were received within 12 hours after the storm.
iWYZE and MiWay: Average claims for vehicle damage received are respectively R15 000 and R20 000.
One cannot switch on the TV without having to see advertisements for MiWay and other insurers. So yes, now’s their chance to put their money where their bog mouths are. Of course, they’ll probably claim force majeure and refuse to pay a dime.