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How does hail form? | Weather Wise

Any hail larger than a nickle can warrant a severe thunderstorm warning.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hail can be a common occurrence during thunderstorms here in Kentuckiana, but how does it form and why?

Hail is a form of precipitation that is made of ice, causing some serious damage when it hits the ground. It forms in thunderstorm updrafts, when strong wind gusts bring warmth and moisture into a storm.

The hail rises into colder layers of the atmosphere and freezes. As it rises and moves in the could, it encounters other droplets, which cause it to grow. This can happen many times before hail actually falls. The more it happens, the bigger the hail.

Once the storm cannot support the weight of the hail, it falls to the ground. To measure hail, we compare it to everyday objects. Hail can be the size of a pea, or as big as a grapefruit. Any hail larger than a nickle can warrant a severe thunderstorm warning.

On average, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming see the most hailstorms in the U.S. The largest hailstorm ever recorded fell in South Dakota in 2010. It was nearly 8 inches in diameter, the size of a volleyball.

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Contact meteorologist Kaitlynn Fish at kfish@whas11.com and follow her on Twitter (@KaitlynnFish) and Facebook.

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