Hail Research Project for Boeing

Bobby Prentice

Kevin Housen (Associate Technical Fellow, Boeing) sent me this e-mail.
I'm posting this here in case there are storm chasers who wish to
participate in his proposed hail research project.

Kevin Housen said:
I'm doing research into the impact characteristics
of hail -- for example, the degree of damage that hail does when it hits a
structure of interest (being at an airplane company, you might guess what
kinds of structures I'm mainly interested in).

I am hoping to get a research effort started here in which actual hailstones
would be used in some impact experiments in my lab. Of course to do that
I'll need some actual hailstones. So, because you are a storm chaser, I
thought I'd see if you would have any interest in a program to collect some
large hailstones that would then be shipped back to me.

This program could involve multiple levels of involvement -- something along
the lines of the following:

1. At the simplest level, hailstones (say golf-ball or larger) that have
"soft landed" in an area of grass or soft dirt would be collected, stored
temporarily in a portable cooler, and then packed in dry ice for shipping.

2. At the next level of complication, I would want some high speed video
that shows large hailstones hitting hard surfaces, such as pavement, a metal
rooftop, etc. The standard-speed video clips that I have collected from
various stormchasers just isn't fast enough to see what I want to see. So,
we would purchase a high-speed video camera (~1,000 pics/sec) that you would
use to hopefully capture some useful video during your encounters with

3. A more complicated level would involve collection of some data in the
field. One idea I had was to have a relatively light (single axle) trailer
built that has a fairly rigid metal plate for the bed. The trailer would be
towed by a stormchaser with the idea that if a region of large hail is
encountered, a high speed video camera (plus some other instrumentation)
would capture the impact events that occur on the trailer bed. An
alternative to the trailer would be to build an instrumented platform that
would attach to the top of a chase vehicle. This option would have the
advantage that it would supply some shielding to protect the chase vehicle
from hail damage.

Again, I don't yet have funding for this program, but I wanted to check with
you to see if you might be interested in participating. If you are, we
could work out the details of what the compensation would be and which level
you'd like to participate at.

So, please let me know if you're interested and I'll keep you in mind if this
gets off the ground.

Kevin Housen
Associate Technical Fellow
MS 2T-50, The Boeing Co., P.O. Box 3999, Seattle, WA 98124
206-544-5415 voice 206-544-5438 FAX
Web: http://shockphysics.ds.boeing.com
E-mail: [email protected]