What’s the Weather: What causes hail?

Weather Authority University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One of the most prominent threats that severe weather season brings to Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky is the threat of hail.

How does hail form?

First, frozen water droplets are swept upward by the updrafts in a thunderstorm. Those droplets reach the freezing level, and it becomes easy for them to accumulate. Then, layers of ice form on top of one another.

Eventually, all of those layers come together to form a hailstone.

The stronger the updraft, the longer that hailstone will stay up in the air, and the larger it will get. Once the stone becomes too heavy, it falls back to the ground.

Once hailstones grow to be 1″ in diameter — roughly the size of a quarter — the storm cell producing those hailstones reaches the threshold for severe weather.

Hail that big can do plenty of damage, and the risk only increases as hailstones grow larger.

The largest hailstone on record was found in 2010 in Vivian, South Dakota. It measures 8″ in diameter. It would have been large enough to do severe damage to anything that it hit.

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