The Heat Is Online

Texas Hailstorm Leaves $30 Million in Damages

Hail damage costs reach $30 million, April 8, 2003

DALLAS (AP) Insurance agents' phones were expected to keep ringing Tuesday as damage claims pour in from the storms that ripped through North Texas on Saturday.

Estimated insured losses had reached $30 million with 15,000 to 18,000 claims filed by the close of business Monday, said Jerry Johns, president of the industry group Southwestern Insurance Information Service, Inc.

"This could be one of the worst weather-related disasters to sweep through what we consider the hail capital of the world," Johns said.

While Allstate Insurance Co. has labeled the storm a "catastrophe", meaning losses are more than $1 million, a spokesman for the company called the storm "routine" and said it would not influence coverage rates.

"We must have a series of devastating storms over a short period of time to see an impact on rates," said Allstate spokesman Justin Schmitt in Tuesday's editions of The Dallas Morning News.

The estimated losses pale in comparison to the $1.1 billion in damages caused by a hail storm that wreaked havoc on the area in May 1995. But Johns said the damages reported Monday were "simply the tip of the iceberg" and insured losses could reach between $75 million and $100 million.

"People are very slow to report claims because their homes are still livable (and) their cars are still drivable," Johns said, adding that people looking for quick service should file their claims soon.

Of the thousands of claims that have come in so far, about two-thirds were for damage to homes and businesses and the rest were for damages to vehicles, Johns said. Unprotected vehicles at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field were especially hard hit, Johns said. Damage to new cars and trucks at dealerships also was reported.

Three thunderstorms that moved through North Texas on Saturday night and carried into early Sunday battered trees, power lines, homes and cars with hail, wind and rains. In Possum Kingdom Lake, about 70 miles west of Fort Worth, there were reports of softball-sized hail and winds up to 79 mph, said Dan Dixon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. Storm spotters reported a tornado in the area and hail knocked out windows, Dixon said.

When that storm and two others moved into the Dallas-Fort Worth area, winds knocked down fences and hail tore the branches off trees. Baseball- and tennis ball-sized hail were reported in North Dallas, Garland and the southern part of Collin County and winds along the northern edge of the area exceeded 60 mph.

A National Weather Service storm surveyor found evidence that a weak tornado touched down about one mile south of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Dixon said. At least 59 American Airlines aircraft were damaged by the storm.

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