I was watching an HDNet program the other night that had images of the space shuttle sitting idle on the launch pad, the nose cone pocked with hail damage. Why? Because they left it out during the storm. It's not that easy to get it back into it's hanger on short notice, you know.
But does it really have to be that way? There are companies that manufacture tents capable of holding 3000 of your closest friends, family or colleagues. A tent.
So can't NASA design a (very, very, very tall) tent-like structure to shield the shuttle whenever it's just waiting there on the launch pad? Sure it would be expensive, but it has to be better than the alternative.
I hate to bring up the whole "they put a man on the moon" thing, but c'mon. Thomas won't leave his car out in a hail storm; I'm pretty sure that the shuttle cost a bit more.