A look into Hail

A look into Hail

By: Aubrey Urbanowicz

Hail is ice falling from the sky, but hail happens during a thunderstorm, and thunderstorms are much more frequent in the warmer months. Typically larger hail will fall in thunderstorms in the late spring or early summer, that’s when it’s warm enough for storms to form, but there’s still enough cold air above the storm to form hail.

Hail forms in thunderstorms, and it’s typical to see small or pea size hail in a storm. 

But larger hail is considered severe and it can cause damage to homes, cars, livestock, agriculture, and even you!

The National Weather Service classifies hail as severe when it reaches 1 inch in diameter, which is hail about the size of a quarter.

The stronger the updrafts, as warm moist air rising quickly into a storm, the larger a hailstone can grow until it’s heavy enough to fall. Large hail is more common with supercells, which are rotating thunderstorms. That’s because supercells have a really strong rotating updraft.

Falling hail combined with fierce thunderstorm winds can cause severe damage. The bigger the hailstone, the faster it falls, and the more damage it can create.

Golf ball size hail, which is 1.75 inches in diameter, is large enough to put a dent in your car.  

According to the Insurance institute for business and home safety, hail creates about $1 billion dollars in damage a year in crops and property.

The largest hailstone in the U.S. fell in 2010 in South Dakota and was 8 inches in diameter. It also had a circumference of eighteen inches.

The record for the largest hailstone in Vermont is 3.3 inches in diameter, between a baseball and a softball, which fell in July of 2009.

Alabama set a state record for largest hailstone earlier this year. The diameter was 5.38 inches, larger than a grapefruit, and it fell on March 19, 2018.

All photos are from the National weather service. The SD ones are from NWS Aberdeen, and the Alabama hailstone is from NWS Huntsville.


Summary: Severe hail can create $1 billion of damage each year! Learn about some of the largest hailstones and how they form.