Down here in Dallas we get hail. I’m not talking about little flecks of ice like sleet… I’m talking about golf ball to baseball sized hunks of ice falling from the sky at 80 miles per hour. These things rip through roofs, destroy cars, and kill people.
Wikipedia explains hail formation like this:
Hail forms on condensation nuclei such as dust, insects, or ice crystals, when supercooled water freezes on contact. Hailstones are usually from the size of a pea to the size of a golfball.
In clouds containing large numbers of supercooled water droplets, these ice nuclei grow quickly at the expense of the liquid droplets because the saturation vapor pressure over ice is slightly less than the saturation vapor pressure over water.
If the hailstones grow large enough, latent heat released by further freezing may melt the outer shell of the hailstone. The growth that follows, usually called wet growth, is more efficient because the liquid outer shell allows the stone to accrete other smaller hailstones in addition to supercooled droplets. These winds hold the rain and freeze it.
As the process repeats, the hail grows increasingly larger. Once a hailstone becomes too heavy to be supported by the storm’s updraft it falls out of the cloud. When a hailstone is cut in half, a series of concentric rings, like that of an onion, is revealed. These rings reveal the total number of times the hailstone had traveled to the top of the storm before falling to the ground.
And when they hit in Texas they do a LOT of damage. For example, in 2006 a hailstorm caused $100 Million in damage in the San Marcos area, in 2005 a hailstorm caused $100 Million in damage near Austin, and in 1995 Dallas got hit with $1 Billion in damage!
So, a couple of weeks ago we got a little hail that isn’t really even worth mentioning, but it reminded me that in August of 2005 I had captured a few minutes of a hailstorm on video and never shared it. So, here it is now… This hail was up to about 1/2 inch in size, but believe me if it hits you it stings! It can easily break your glasses or put out an eye, and it leaves welts if you are exposed too long.