How hail forms in a thunderstorm

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In the spring and summertime we can get severe thunderstorms that produce hail. What is hail? It is a form of precipitation made up of ice.

In a thunderstorm, there can be currents of upward moving wind. This is called an updraft. As water droplets start to fall from the clouds in the storm, they can be caught in this current of upward moving wind. This “updraft” can be strong enough to keep pushing the water droplets above the freezing level within a cloud. As it continues to cycle above the freezing level, it continues to add layers and layers of ice onto the droplet. This is called a hailstone. Eventually, the hailstone becomes too heavy and falls to the ground.

Hailstones can be as small as a pea, to the size of a grapefruit! The most common size hail is usually between a quarter of an inch to a half an inch in diameter.

If you see hail and can safely take videos and photos, make sure to do so. It is also important to report any hail to the National Weather Service.


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