It can happen when you're driving, sleeping, or outside at a game. It happens day or night, and it can cause significant damage to your home, cars, and crops. Hail, one of the most unusual weather phenonmenons, can reach up to 120 miles per hour and cause $1 billion worth of damages every year. While interesting, hail can also be deadly to people and animals alike.
Did You Know? Hail Can Pack a Punch!
- The most costly hail storm occurred in 2001 in Kansas City, Missouri. It caused over $2 billion in damages alone.
- In 2010, a hailstone in Vivian, South Dakota, became the largest hailstone ever recorded with a diameter of 8 inches. That's just a bit smaller than the size of a bowling ball.
- In 2003, the second-largest ever recorded hailstone fell in Aurora, Nebraska. It was 7 inches in diameter and weighed just under 1 pound.
- In 1970, the heaviest recorded hailstone fell in Coffeeville, Kansas. It weight more than 1.5 pounds and was almost 6 inches in diameter.
How is Hail Formed?
Hail forms when the warm updraft of a thunderstorm pushes water droplets high enough into the clouds that they freeze. These frozen water droplets are then caused by a storm's cold downdraft and are pushed into warmer air. As the droplets begin to melt slightly, they pick up more water droplets and become larger. The little ball of ice is then picked up by the warm updraft again, and is pushed up past the freezing temperatures for another time. With each pass of the cycle, the frozen water droplets become bigger and heavier.
Eventually, the updrafts are no longer strong enough to push the large droplets up and around, so the balls of ice finally fall to the ground as hail. The stronger the updraft, the larger the hailstones can become.
In meteorological radars, hail often shows up within the red coloration because it bounces more energy back than liquid raindrops. High winds can push hail sideways as it falls which causes damage to the sides of houses and smashes windows.
Different Hail Sizes
According to the National Weather Service, hail is generally no larger than 2 inches in diameter. However, you should never go outside during a hailstorm to measure the size of hail. There is an easy and safe way to judge how big hail from inside. Use these common measurements to determine how big the hail falling in your area might be:
- Pea (0.25 inch diameter)
- Marble/Mothball (0.50 inch diameter)
- Dime/Penny (0.75 inch diameter)
- Nickel (0.875 inch diameter)
- Quarter (1 inch diameter)
- Ping-Pong Ball (1.5 inch diameter)
- Golf Ball (1.75 inch diameter)
- Tennis Ball (2.50 inch diameter)
- Baseball (2.75 inch diameter)
- Tea Cup (3 inch diameter)
- Grapefruit (4 inch diameter)
- Softball (4.5 inch diameter)
*After hail has become the size of a dime or penny (0.75 inch diameter), it is considered severe by the National Weather Service.
Hail Can Mean Other Trouble
Large hail is often a good indicator that a thunderstorm has the possibility to produce a tornado. The updrafts and downdrafts needed to form hail also have the ability to form tornadoes. However, tornadoes can occur with or without hail.
The strong updrafts and downdrafts needed to produce hail can also create high winds. These winds can rip through trees causing limbs to fall and damage roofs, windows, fences, and vehicles. Wind can also tear shingles off roofs and send hail smashing through windows. High winds alone are not an indication that hail is on its way.
Protect Yourself Before the Damage is Done
Having the right coverage could protect your car, home, and other property from the high cost of hail damage. Schedule your SuperCheck today to find out if you have the right protection against hail for your family!