Researchers Hope Indoor Hail Test Will Improve Building Standards
RICHBURG, SC - It had all the signs of an incoming storm. High winds, darkness all around, and finally hail pouring from the sky.
This storm though, took place inside, at a research lab in Richburg, South Carolina.
"We're trying to look at how materials perform against hail storms and we really want to mimic mother nature as much as we can," explains research engineer Tanya Brown.
It's an experiment years in the making.
Researchers with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety created hand-made hail stones.
"They are a mixture of seltzer water and tap water and we do that so we actually get bubbles within the hail stone, that makes them more realistic," Brown says.
Researchers injected the water into molds and froze them.
The hail, ranging from quarter to golf ball size was shot down from a cannon.
With over 9000 hail stones raining down on this building, the greatest damage was to the gutters and to the roof. Experts say it shows the importance of investing in quality building material.
"Get the roof right. Get it strong and get it impact resistant," explains Brenda O'Connor.
Researchers will spend the next several weeks comparing the different types of roofing material and siding installed on the house.
They're also hoping to help develop building standards that don't yet exist for doors and windows.
"IBHAS hopes to contribute our research to make those standards both hardier and stronger so that we have homes and businesses that survive better," O'Connor says.
According to the institute, hail creates about a billion dollars in damage annually in the US.
Though this storm only lasted four minutes, researchers hope what they learn will save millions.