LUBBOCK, Texas — From a pea to an egg and to even a softball..hail can come in all different shapes and sizes and believe it or not, the size of the hailstone is solely dependent on the strength of the thunderstorm. Simply put, the stronger the storm, the larger the hail is. While that may sound simple, the atmospheric processes that happen in the cloud are a little more complex.
Jeff Vitale, Meteorologist at the National Weather Service Lubbock explains. “Hail starts out when we see thunderstorms and thunderstorms have these updrafts where the air moves upward in the atmosphere. What happens is this updraft will carry a water droplet up to a high enough level so that it will freeze. At that point it will collect other water that’s around it or collide with other pieces of ice and will grow larger. What happens then is the hailstone will get large enough so that the updraft cannot hold the hailstone anymore and gravity will bring it down to the surface. We’ll see larger hail with the stronger updrafts because the hail has a longer residence time in the thunderstorm, so it basically has more time for the hailstone to grow before it gets heavy enough to fall to the surface.”
No matter the size, hail can cause billions of dollars in damage each year. Penny sized hail mixed in with 70 to 80 mile per hour wind speeds can be just as hazardous as baseball sized hail falling to the ground at nearly 80 miles per hour. And while we can’t stop it from falling, you can do some things to protect your life and property.
“Staying away from windows is the best thing to do in case one were to fly into the window and break it. Especially with the wind driven hail, which we can see very small hail is able to destroy complete sides of buildings. Well, if you got a garage or some sort of covered area for your car that would be the best place for that. The best place to be is inside really. Your life is the most important thing than a banged up car.”
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