How does hail form?

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Hail is one severe weather threat that can cause more damage than you think. It’s something that primarily happens during the summertime as strong thunderstorms move through.

Why the summertime?

Hail is produced in thunderstorms with healthy updrafts. Those types of storms often occur during the warmer months.


Hail is formed when raindrops are swept up into the updraft of the thunderstorm over and over again. As this happens, additional layers of ice accumulate around the tiny ice crystals that form, creating a hailstone.

The hailstone becomes larger and larger with each additional circulation through the updraft. Eventually, the hailstone is large enough and heavy enough to outweigh the lift from the thunderstorm and it falls to the ground.

Largest hailstone on record in the US. It fell in Vivian, S.D. on July 23, 2010. (Image via the National Weather Service.)

The stronger the thunderstorm’s updraft, the larger the hail. Hail has layers like an onion, this is due to its accumulating ice while circulating in the storm.

While hail is typically small, large hail can be incredibly destructive. Hail can be large enough to dent your car, break your windshield, and cause damage to your home. The largest hailstone on record was 18.62 inches around, it fell in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010.

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Tennessee is February 23rd – 29th. The News 2 Weather Authority has special reports for you all week. On Wednesday, Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy brings you the stories of Storm Survivors. You’ll meet people from across Middle Tennessee who came face-to-face with deadly storms, as they share the lessons taken away from their close calls.

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