x
Breaking News
More () »

Louisville's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Louisville, Kentucky | WHAS11.com

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.

More Weather Wise:

RELATED: The science of precipitation | Weather Wise Lessons

RELATED: High, low pressure systems; How do they work?

RELATED: What causes lightning and thunder?

Weather Wise YouTube Playlist

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

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.