Can your water tank withstand hail?

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Australia sees its fair share of hazardous weather every year. At times, communities may have to contend with extreme hail storms that can cause damage to property.

To supplement water conservation efforts, many Australian businesses and homeowners have rainwater storage tanks. Depending on the material with which they're made, some tanks may rupture, thus compromising their function.

How does hail form?

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), hail coincides with intense thunderstorms. When these events occur, the tops of the clouds maintain a very cold temperature – between -50 and -60 degrees Celsius. These temperatures even persist during the middle of summer.

This cold portion of the storm causes water droplets to form ice crystals. The updraft from the storm keeps the crystals in the air, where they grow. Once the crystals expand to a certain size, the updraft can no longer support their weight, causing them to fall to the ground. Given the substantial distance the ice has to fall to the ground, the velocity can be significant.

The BOM defined large hailstones as those measuring 2 centimetres (cm) or more in diameter. In the early 2000s, New South Wales experienced particularly bad hail storms. On January 16, 2002, hailstones measuring 7cm pounded Kingscliff.

Some storms require intervention 

When hail appears, emergency responses typically follow. Last year, former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman ordered the Defence Force and the State Emergency Service to assist affected residents with repairing roofs and conducting other recovery initiatives, as noted by ABC News.

"We want people to be safe. At this stage, we have had no reports of any deaths or any serious injuries, but this has been a ferocious storm, arguably the worst since 1985 for [Brisbane]," said Mr Newman, as quoted by ABC News. 

There are materials and assets capable of resisting hailstones. For example, polyethylene water tanks may provide the protection homeowners and business professionals need. 

By Gerald Beckton

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