Punching A Hail Core

Discussion in 'Introductory weather & chasing' started by Todd Friskey, May 18, 2015.

  1. Todd Friskey

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    0
    I know it is dangerous to punch a hail core (i.e., punching the core) and I have yet to do it. I was curious though if any other chasers have done it and if so what was the end result?
     
  2. Marcus Diaz

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Messages:
    809
    Likes Received:
    531
    I had to do this on Saturday to get in front of the Elmer/Tipton tornado. The end result...some big dings in my car's body, and an even more broken windshield than I previously had. But also had a great contrast view of the wedge to my SW once I went through the hail/precip. If you don't want to risk busting out windows/exterior lights and mirrors, then stay away.

    But remember, each storm is different. You can punch a hail core and not see squat if it's HP enough, or if the storm isn't producing. As @Shane Adams says, if it means getting a great shot, it's worth losing value on the car. That's my take of it anyways! ;)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Todd Lemery

    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2014
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    207
    I've never punched a hail core on purpose. Not that I think it is all that dangerous, but I figure chasing probably wouldn't be that much fun without a windshield. That's not to say my car (rental) hasn't gotten the crap beat out of it or that if it was my only option to get a good view of a tornado I wouldn't follow Marcus through. I just try really, really hard to avoid the hail if I can.
     
  4. Dean Baron

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    441
    Likes Received:
    20
    It all depends on the setup. If it's a moderate or high risk I probably wouldn't because storms on days like that usually have big enough hail to damage your windshield or windows. If I don't think the storm is producing anything bigger than say golf balls I'll usually have no problem punching the core. Visibility is usually low while you're in it but it quickly improves when you get closer to the base.
     
  5. Joshua Horenstein

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    1
    I hate, hate, hate core punching.

    I chase with my brother (I drive) and he always pressures me to puch but I always drive the extra 10+ mile east to the next N-S road. To me, the sound of hail hitting the car stirs deep down primal fears that I avoid at all costs.
     
  6. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Resident meteorological expert
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2008
    Messages:
    2,577
    Likes Received:
    931
    I've had success doing it before and I've also had to stop and turn around before because the hail got too big. There have also been times I elected not to try, passed through the area where the core did go through, and not regretted that decision. Every core is a little different. Some have little to no hail, while others are chock full of baseballs and softballs, and yet others are somewhere in-between. Usually on the higher CAPE days you're more likely to see stones large enough to break your windshield.

    One thing you can do to help you decide whether to punch a core or not is to look at ZDR and CC. If there's an area bigger than a few bins with ZDR ~ 0 and reduced CC (like, below 0.95), then that's an indication that core may be full of hail over a large area, although it doesn't necessarily say the hail is big. TBSSs and NBF signatures can be better signatures of big hail as opposed to just the presence of hail. If you see those spikes coming out of the core, it's almost a guarantee you'll see pretty big hail.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  7. ChristianT

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2014
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    3
    I too have not yet core punched, because broken windows and car dents means money lost to a repair shop. However, I will share some observations I have from being in the field. Several things, the dangers in the hail core. Besides the large hail that can damage your vehicle, a core on a slow-moving storm can easily cause flash flooding and depending on the area can impede road options that can be vital especially if there is a tornado behind the core. On fast moving storms, I would not even try it because there could be a fast moving tornado just on the other side of that hail. If you do decide to core punch, know the road options and plan accordingly based off of risk of flooding, and also be ready to spend some money fixing your windows. I chased on April 26th in the Stephenville area and there was some incredible hail from those storms. The videos show a lot of what you might expect from a supercell's hail core, though the size was exceptionally large.
     
  8. Todd Rector

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Messages:
    325
    Likes Received:
    142
    I personally avoid hail, although I recently received some body damage and windshield cracks.
    Bear in mind, hail is always a risk when chasing because supercells can fling baseballs FAR from the radar-indicated core.
     
  9. Gene Moore

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    71
    I too suffered the wrath of large hail in the vicinity of the Elmer tornado. The hail was generally north through east of the vortex and extended well out away from the main storm base. What hit me the worst was falling from the anvil and had a NE-SW fall angle. I chase in a vehicle with a strong hail screen, but on this day I was using a vehicle I have just purchased the day before. I left my position a bit early since there were so many chasers on this cell... didn't want to get caught in conjestion. That said, the way the storm developed most of the chasers were left on the south side of the mesocyclone so crowding was not an issue. This is only my third windshield loss since 2008 so it's not that bad. Sometimes these losses are difficult to avoid like my last one at El Reno when the strong inflow winds blew hail under my screen... but that's just chasing. Two images: shot of windshield showing storm structure and hits on the left side and a dark shot of the tornado showing hail streaks in front of the tornado.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. James Gustina

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    211
    Another Elmer victim checking in. Its dicey on days like Saturday, but it sometimes becomes a necessity to get to a safe spot. The vault near the inflow region with massive supercells somewhere between classic and HP is notorious for having big hail and you have to take into account that you won't be just getting hail in the FFD on more intense supercells.
     
  11. Joey Ketcham

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2013
    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    47
    I've punched the core a few times, but only on weaker storms that didn't produce very big hail. Never broken a windshield, but my vehicle is pretty dented up because of hail.
     
  12. Jeff Snyder

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Messages:
    4,838
    Likes Received:
    99
    As @Jeff Duda mentioned, this is one case where dual-pol data can *really* come in handy! The combination of Z, Zdr, and rhohv (a.k.a., CC) can be very good for discriminating where giant hail may be falling. Since giant hail *tends* to be quasi-spherical from a scattering standpoint, Z at S band tends to be very high, ZDR tends to be near 0 dB, and rhohv/CC tends to be below 0.95. If you're short on time, I'd look at Z and ZDR and stay away from areas with Z > 60 dBZ and ZDR ~ 0 dB. This rule (particularly the characterization of very high Z) can fall apart a little if the number concentration of hail is very small, which it certainly can be beneath the periphery of the updraft. However, it's a good rule of thumb.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Brian Stertz

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    Messages:
    1,054
    Likes Received:
    0
    We were kind of stuck betwixt and between. Head east and run into the tornado...and stay put and get hammered by baseballs and a few larger hailbombs. Hail option won and windshield and car body lost. Probably one of the more vicious hail pummelings I have had as a chaser. I normally try avoiding such fiascos.
     
  14. Shane Adams

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2011
    Messages:
    517
    Likes Received:
    335
    We made a move to get in front of the Elmer storm fairly early, because we'd been screwing around with the early crap just south of 40 along OK30. So I was so busy blasting south and east to get ahead of the storm's track, I wasn't even aware a tornado had actually formed. The first time we learned there was a confimed tornado, we'd already setup on the south side of Tipton looking west. I wasn't about to abandon my viewing spot for a maybe, because we just don't have real-time live radar with tracks and warnings and all that....we had no clue exactly where it was. So, I opted to just sit and wait, and eventually the tornado emerged enough from the precip core for us to get a look. If I'd known about the wedge in progress as we were heading south on 283, I likely would've pushed the limits a bit more. The only time I lost glass was AFTER we got the tornado, then the hail core wrapped in behind us and slammd us good. Totally worth it. But again, money is tight for chasing and I can't justify getting smashed for a maybe (which is all it was at the time as far as we knew).

    If we could get classic modes just once this year, that would go a long way towards helping us out.
     
  15. BVanDalsem

    BVanDalsem Lurker

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2013
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    19
    I've punched cores twice now. First time was last month down in Arkansas where we drove through golf balls for a while, and my car was fine besides a couple small dents on the hood. Then there was Saturday. I was in Elmer watching the wedge when the baseballs started falling, and actually managed to find a bit of shelter for my car. Then stupidity won, and I took off into the core to get more footage of the tornado. Busted up my windshield, headlight, and body pretty good, but I did manage to come out behind the tornado and caught up to it to watch it cross Highway 5 a couple hundred yards ahead of me. Not my brightest decision, but I did get my best footage to date.
     

Share This Page