Hail are like magical white candies that fall from the sky at a certain time of the year.  But in reality they are small clomps of ice brought on by strong draughts from freezing clouds.  During a thunderstorm hail forms and falls too but there are certain conditions that must be met before hail can grow large and heavy enough to fall on the ground. These conditions are:

  • there must be tall clouds that rise higher above the atmosphere
  • violent updrafts such as a tornado
  • and a freezing  temperature underneath the storm.

Hail 1 Why Does It Hail

How hailstones form

Hailstone begins from a nucleus of ice, then it turns into a chain of freezing cold water.  Much later this water turns into a ball of snow. Hail’s center is called a graupel. Hail continues to ball up, and melts in the thick of a thundercloud until it turns into rain. In the process this ball of ice gets smashed by other graupels. If a piece of it scatters in a storm cloud, there results another would-be nucleus for a hailstone.

In cases where a thunderstorm forms somewhere between  strong winds and freezing temperature, we have hail nucleus balling up to a bigger ice through a process called accretion. At this stage hail appears dirty white with several layers that form because of trapped air bubbles. They stick to the graupel. These layers have extremely cool water inside that further hardens when it merges with other hailstones.  At times we see unnaturally larger hailstones forming.

There are times when  hail is formed from rain droplets that are carried up further by an updraft wind. Here you have a strong wind that goes as fast as 100 mph or stronger. Like the other process, the frozen water gathers more moisture until the ball gets too heavy for the wind. Then  it falls down as hail.

Sizes of hailstorms

Hails sizes vary. They may be as small as pinheads to something as big as softballs. Sometimes you see the outer layers melt when hail blends with other “warmer” snow,  rain, or atmospheric liquid.  Aside from giving you visual pleasure, hail also gives you an inside look at how thunderstorms are formed. This way meteorologists are able to understand how storms grow.

Hail requires cumulonimbus and convective clouds to form, plus strong updraft winds. That’s why it is usually followed by a thunderstorm. After a tornado break out, big hail follows. But hail doesn’t mean a tornado is going to come any time soon.  What we know for certain is that when hailstorms come around they usually don’t last longer than 20 minutes

Hail Why Does It Hail

Hail doesn’t  occur only in cold countries  at a certain time. Even in temperate counties like the Philippines hail unpredictably falls. But hail is most common in the United States. Most times hail occurs late in the afternoon.

What to do when there’s hailstorm

While most hailstorms are not essentially risky to lives and property, it may get to a point where it could hurt you physically. What you need to do is to run for cover in a low place. What makes hail a physical threat isn’t so much its temperature but the speed at which it goes.

Categories: General

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