(WBBM Newsradio) — A Northern Illinois University professor has come up with a way to predict — weeks ahead of time — when and where hail might fall.

WBBM first talked to NIU Assistant Professor Victor Gensini a couple of years ago, after he developed a way to determine when and where tornadoes were likely to strike.

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“And then we were kind of thinking,” he says. “If it works for tornadoes, what else happens when there’s tornadoes?

“Aha — a lightbulb — there’s hail.”

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Gensini looks at the jet stream over the Pacific. If it’s fast and elongated east to west it is more likely to turn into severe weather two to four weeks later as it enters the U.S.

“And actually, from a societal perspective, the hail piece is more important because hail causes much more economic loss every year than tornadoes do,” he says.

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Gensini says later on, this kind of long-range forecasting would be useful — especially, say, for the insurance industry.