How Does Hail Form?

It's been a stormy spring so far with a lot of rain, wind and hail! Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick explains how hail forms and when you're most likely to see it.

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It's been a stormy spring so far with a lot of rain, wind and hail!   

This past Saturday afternoon was a classic case where some thunderstorms produced large hail stones. 

The worst of the hail storm cut a path through Pike County, Kentucky.

Here's a photo of tennis ball size hail near Pikeville.

There were also reports of golf ball and baseball size hail.  This produced property damage.

Here's another picture of a car in Pike County, KY with dents and window's smashed!  No injuries reported.




So what really 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 ice.  When updrafts are this strong it becomes possible to suspend large hail for long periods of time, 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.


Be sure to post your weather questions and comments below.


Thanks for reading and check back.

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