Hail Storms

It was a stormy night! Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick explains how and why some thunderstorms produce hail.

Monday night was a classic case where some thunderstorms produced small to large hail stones. 

The worst of the hail storm cut a path from Jackson County, Northern Gallia County, Ohio and Mason County, WV.  Below is a photo from Tiffany Waugh in Bidwell, Ohio in Gallia County of the near golf ball size hail.

There were some reports from Northern Gallia County of the hail denting cars, siding and breaking some windows.

Another severe thunderstorm raced through Carter County, Kentucky and produced quarter size hail.  Below you'll find a photo taken by e-Reporter, Jerry Tilsley of Grayson, KY of the hail.

So what causes hail to form?

Updrafts within thunderstorms push rain high into the cloud where very cold air freezes it. Once frozen it starts to fall but gets caught in another strong updraft where it gathers more moisture on its way back up making it larger. If the updrafts are strong enough they will continue this process for long periods of time allowing the hail to accumulate more moisture and more moisture. In a severe thunderstorm downdrafts may act like a wedge and increase the intensity of the updraft. Updrafts can get so strong they even intrude into the stable stratosphere. When updrafts are this strong it becomes possible to suspend large hail for long periods of time further adding moisture to the hail, sometimes building it to incredible sizes. Updraft winds can be from 100 to 120 miles per hour when producing baseball and larger size hail.


Most hail forms in thunderstorms during March through June when the upper atmosphere is coldest.



If you have a weather related question email me at josh.fitzpatrick@wsaz.com, follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/weatherjoshfitz and or join my facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Josh-Fitzpatrick-fan-page/362878134573 


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