Which state is most at risk for hail damage in a given season? Hint: It's not in Tornado Alley

·3 min read

Large hail can not only smash your car's windows to bits and leave dents to where it looks like you're driving something that looks like a golf ball on wheels, but it can also damage homes and businesses and even lead to injuries.

While the frequent severe weather storms of Tornado Alley might be thought of as the hail king of the U.S., it turns out it's a state that sits outside the "alley" where residents can expect to pay the most for hail damage.

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MoneyGeek, using national risk data from FEMA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, calculated annual expected losses per state and ranked the results on a per-capita basis.

The state that came out on top wasn't Oklahoma or Nebraska or Kansas – but Colorado.

LOUISVILLE, CO - JUNE 19: Sara Pilot, left, looks at the hail damage to her car from a large hailstorm that raced through her neighborhood the night before on June 19, 2018, in Louisville, Colorado.
LOUISVILLE, CO - JUNE 19: Sara Pilot, left, looks at the hail damage to her car from a large hailstorm that raced through her neighborhood the night before on June 19, 2018, in Louisville, Colorado.

The study found Colorado averages 234 large hail events a year, totaling $151.5 million in annual damage. That averages out to $30.13 in losses per resident on a per-capita basis each year. Denver makes up the bulk of the damage, with $2.3 billion in hail damage alone in 2017.

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Tornado Alley stalwart Nebraska was second on the list with more annual hail events at 319 but totaling $50.8 million a year, averaging out to $27.81 per capita.

Rounding out the top five are Oklahoma ($21.46 per person), South Dakota ($15.57) and North Dakota ($13.59).

Texas ranked first in overall hail events – due to its size and prime stormy location – but spread out amid its large population, the Lone Star state ranked sixth overall in per-capita data at $13.46. (Mississippi State University fans may be curious to know that "Hail State" only ranks as the No. 14 hail state in this survey.)

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On the flip side, five states – Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, Maryland and Washington – cost their residents less than a nickel a year in annual hail damage per capita.

So far, 2022 has not seen as much hail as a typical year.

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The U.S. had 4,140 reports of large hail events (hailstones greater than 1 inch in diameter) from Jan. 1 through Sept. 15, and while that sounds like a lot, it's more than 1,000 reports behind a typical year.

As usual, Texas leads the way as far as aggregate large hail reports at 423 so far this year, but its lead is not substantial. Nebraska is just behind at 392 hail reports, and Minnesota checks in at 379 reports.

Ironically, for 2022, Colorado is relatively far down the list at No. 10, with 117 reports in 2022 so far.

The study's authors suggest those living in hail-prone areas should invest in more solid roofing and windows to impact-resistant versions. And make sure your homeowners and car's comprehensive insurance policies are robust and up to date to protect against hail damage.