Hail summer

After the hail storm at Colorado Springs zoo

Last spring there was a wind storm here that blew down fences, knocked over a large woody bush in my backyard, and peeled shingles off the house across the street. Maybe an 80% chance to get insurance to replace my roof, my contractor said. In the following two months, while I debated whether to file a claim, quarter-sized or larger hail finally found and pounded Thornton (north Denver). Since then the sound of roofers’ hammers and nail guns has been non-stop. Seems like the whole city, including yours truly, is getting a new roof. In a way it’s fortuitous timing, since this house is 17 years old and would probably need a new roof anyway in another couple of years. But this way I won’t be paying for it. At least not until my insurance rates go up next year to cover it.

I would have dismissed the warnings of a hail storm because they are rarely damaging in this part of the metro. But my daughter-in-law, working on the south side, called my son and warned him that big hail was imminent and he should get his car over to my garage immediately (we’re about a mile apart). He called me and I rushed to move my car from the middle of the garage to one side to make room for him, and left the door open. A minute later, literally, he whipped into the garage and just as he was getting out of his car, we heard the first thunk! on the roof. He’d made it with about 10 seconds to spare.

Glad this was in Colorado Springs and not Thornton

The thunks continued for maybe 15 minutes and sounded as bad as anything we’d experienced here. I called the contractor the next day and he came out again and said yes, this time I should definitely file that claim.

So, after several months of listening to new roofs being installed all over the neighborhood (my son got his earlier this year), I’m getting mine this week. It was not a fun day in this little one-story ranch. Those hammers and heavy footsteps were just out of reach overhead.

I sedated Annie, my dog, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. And I jumped every time there was an unexpected sharp bang! amidst the general thudding. We survived, although both of us were exhausted by the end of the day. There’s one more day to go. The crew didn’t get the gutters on because one of them got sick. Not surprising, considering they were doing manual labor on a black roof on a 95°F (35°C) day.

You may have heard earlier this summer that the Colorado Springs zoo was hit by softball sized hail. It trashed all the cars in the parking lot, broke most of the glass in the zoo’s buildings, sent several people to the hospital, and killed four birds, one a rare vulture of some kind. Took them about a week to clean everything up enough to reopen.

Not until this particular storm had I heard the term “hail alley,” but I now know we’re in it. And one reason it gets particularly bad around here is because of our elevation. We’re so much higher than much of the country that falling hail doesn’t have as much time to melt before it hits the ground … and the cars … and the roofs. (Remember, Denver is the “Mile High City.”) But contrary to what one article said, Oklahoma City can be just as bad. My sister there has replaced four roofs in ten years because of hail.

So anyway, yes, in its own way, the weather here is every bit as varied and potentially damaging as anything I experienced in Oklahoma, which is in both hail alley and tornado alley. But between storms, I much prefer Colorado.

This map isn’t quite accurate. Denver and Colorado Springs are definitely in hail alley. Or perhaps we should name our own zone Super Hail Alley. Denver is at that intersection of several highways, just above the final “O” in “Colorado.” Colorado Springs is about where the “O” is.



Categories: Green

8 replies

  1. We replaced our 17-year-old roof early this summer after a hail storm. The pellets were about the size of a quarter. There had been a couple of other brief hail storms in the roof’s history as well, so I thought it was time. Coincidentally, the shingles’ warranty was 17 years. Our insurance company allowed about $20,000 but deducted $3,000 for “depreciation” and another $3,000 for deductible. In the end, after getting 3 bids, I was only out of pocket about $3,000. Soon after, the houses around us in our small development also started getting new shingles as well. (One house is still being worked now.) Without exception, the work, hot and grueling, was done by Hispanic workers. It’s an industry. Who would be doing it, I wonder, if the Hispanics were gone?

    • Assuming I read all the numbers correctly, I should just about break even on my roof. I had something called “recoverable depreciation,” which I’ve never understood. As for warranties, I’m the third owner of this house and any information on warranties is long gone. The work isn’t done yet, so I’m not sure what the final accounting will be. I think about $13,000 total. And yes, the crew looked to be all Hispanic. Common in this part of the country. Yard work, however, seems to be done mostly by Asians.

    • Jim… I had thought this was a regional observation since I liver in Texas close to Houston, but from what you and Pied say, I’m more convinced than ever that more Republican wisdom will soon result in my not being able to afford a head of lettuce, much less a bundle of shingles.

  2. Might be the time to switch to corrugated iron roofs, many older homes in Australia in the cities and out in the bush use those, they can take a hammering. Mostly we go for tiled roofs, but then we probably don’t get as much hail as you do, or rain. Lots of sunshine though

    • A hailstorm on an iron roof would be terrifyingly loud, I’d think. Plus they’d get dented up in every storm and look awful, wouldn’t they? And tiles would be shattered. Asphalt shingles can take quite a beating, but if the hail is big enough, it will ruin anything.

      • Well we don’t get hail stones as big as that depicted, only the size of golf balls, Corrugated iron roofs are immensely strong and no amount of hail will dent or damage them.
        The air raid shelters we used in London during WWII were Anderson Shelters made fro corrugated iron

“I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.” ~ Cornel West

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