574 Tweed residents receive severe hail SMS alert

October 15, 2012

Up to 574 northern New South Wales residents from Byron Bay to Hastings Point received an SMS yesterday afternoon alerting them to the threat of damaging hail in their region.

Budget Direct’s Head of Hail Innovation Paul Malt said Hail Hero is the most precise hail prediction system operating in Australia, sending an SMS warning to Budget Direct policy holders up to 30 minutes before a damaging hailstorm hits. 

“Yesterday afternoon we were able to warn up to 574 people in the Tweed region of the threat of severe and damaging hail,” Mr Malt said. 

“Budget Direct’s Hail Hero showed a severe hailstorm was imminent for the northern New South Wales region from Byron Bay to Hastings Point.

“More than 500 hail alert messages were sent to Tweed residents so they could find shelter for their vehicle and ride out the storm safely in their homes.

“Last night’s hailstorm in the Tweed is an early and timely reminder of the damage that can be caused by larger, more severe summer hail.

“The months leading up to summer are really the start of the severe hailstorm season, where we begin to see bigger, more damaging hail stones.

“If you’re in your vehicle and you see a large storm formation made up of dark clouds, sometimes with a green tinge, we recommend you safely pull over and listen to the radio for a weather warning. 

“If a hailstorm is in the vicinity you should safely drive your vehicle home if possible, or to the nearest shelter such as a shopping centre car park, but never rush as far too many accidents occur as a result of hurried driving.”

Mr Malt said while the Bureau of Meteorology [BOM] provides storm warnings to the public, they are more general in nature which makes it difficult for Tweed motorists to anticipate if they will be affected by hail. 

“Using an algorithm developed by our Budget Direct weather specialist, we analyse BOM radar images to gauge the size and height of ice in a storm cell and whether it will survive a fall to ground,” Mr Malt said.

“If our calculations show that hail 2cm and larger will fall we continue to monitor the storm using our algorithm and map its projection.

“When we’ve pin-pointed the hail drop zone, we send an SMS to our customers letting them know there’s a high probability of hail in the area. 

“Within five minutes of receiving a storm warning we are able to send an SMS to affected policy holders giving them at least 10 minutes warning of an approaching hailstorm.

“Since its launch just over a year ago, Budget Direct’s Hail Hero has tracked 1140 major storms and alerted over 330,515 Australians to the threat of hail.

For further information or interviews please contact Jonathan Kerr, Director, Marketing & Digital, Budget Direct (Auto & General) at 07 3377 8801 or mediaenquiries@budgetdirect.com.au

Budget Direct was established as an insurance provider in Australia in 2000.  It is part of the international BHL Group of companies headquartered in the British Isles. The group provides more than 6.8 million policies to insurance customers and administers $2 billion in premiums annually. Budget Direct offers Motor, Home & Contents, Health, Life and Travel Insurance as well as Roadside Assistance.