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Severe Weather Awareness Week: Large hail can be damaging and deadly

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Large hail can be destructive and even deadly. Large hail can be destructive and even deadly.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

It's getting to be that season when we need to keep our eyes to the sky as dangerous thunderstorms are a serious threat across Lower Michigan.

Hail causes $1 billion of damage a year across the United States.

We have all witnessed small hail, which is more or less a nuisance when driving or enjoying the outdoors.  But large hail as big as golf balls, lemons or even softballs has happened before in metro Detroit and will happen again.

Only the strongest thunderstorms, those with very powerful updrafts, can produce very large hail -- the kind that can dent cars or aluminum siding and damage a roof or destroy farmers' crops.

Scientists at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety can reproduce catastrophic wind events in their giant laboratory located in South Carolina.  Now they are recreating hail, shooting manmade hailstones with hurricane force at structures and cars from special cannons.  They test the impacts and provide critical data to home builders and insurance companies.

Over the last 20 years, cities large and small in Michigan, including Detroit, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Milian, Algonac, New Boston, Sterling Heights and Romeo, have all been hit hard by large hailstorms.

Hail can be a serious threat to air traffic and to people caught out in the open.  Tragically, people have been killed by getting hit with large hailstones.  Hail can be thrown miles away from the actual thunderstorm producing it.  Just like lightening, it is very unpredictable.

Stay indoors and away from windows as thunderstorm approach.  When you are away from your television, you can tract dangerous thunderstorms and those that include large hail by visiting the Weather section of myFOXDetroit.com.

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