Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here: Fun Facts About Hail

Hail is a weather phenomenon associated with powerful thunderstorms. Weather that produces hail can sneak up on you without warning, and these chunks of ice can damage property, cars and even people. Check out these basic facts about nature’s falling ice cubes.

Heavy Hitters


Hailstones can weigh up to 2 pounds by the time they reach the ground, although large sizes of hail are rare.

Size Matters


The National Weather Service classifies the largest type of hail as softball-sized. These hailstones reach 4.5 inches in diameter.

Largest Recorded


The largest hail stone recorded in the United States reached 8 inches in diameter and nearly 2 pounds. That diameter is the size of a volleyball.

Fast Movers


Baseball-sized hail can hit the ground at 100 mph. Hail stones this size have the potential to damage cars, trees, and houses.

It Gets Cold Up There


Tops of thunderstorms that produce hail are -20 degrees Celsius or colder. That equates to -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ringed Wonders


Hail stones have rings inside due to the water formation. Water droplets move up in the cloud to colder regions where they form ice. Then a down draft of air moves the hail downward quickly. After several trips up and down the thundercloud, hailstones finally fall to the ground when winds no longer support the weight of the hail. Within a hailstorm, the pieces of ice move around similar to a lottery ball tumbler.

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Hail damages property, but it can also take lives. One extreme hailstorm killed nearly 250 people in India in 1888.

Extreme Hail


In general, the larger the hail, the more severe the storm. Extreme hail can total a vehicle. Check out baseball-sized hail as number two on this list of extreme types of weather.

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