Hail is one of those components of Mother Nature that continues to captivate the masses. One might go years without ever seeing it, only to have it strike without warning and leave your outside looking like the middle of a war zone. Hail is certainly a type of storm that you do not want to mess with, and you want to be prepared for it just in case it occurs. At the same time, it is often misunderstood because the average person really knows so little about it. Consider the following things that you might not realize about hail and then prepare your existing buildings for an impending storm that may or may not come.
Perhaps precisely because hail is literally thousands of balls of ice falling from the sky, people understandably believe it is most common during the fall and winter seasons. This is actually not true, however, as hail is most common during the summer months. This is the time of the year that natural energy is available in plentiful supply, meaning that larger clouds tend to form with relative ease. It is those large clouds that actual cause the majority of the hail you will see during your lifetime. So, you will want to be on the lookout the next time those afternoon thunderstorms in the summer come rolling through.
If you remember back to your elementary science class, the cumulonimbus is the giant of all clouds in the atmosphere. It is here that hail storms tend to develop. This is thanks to the updrafts of air that occur within the clouds that results in water droplets being lifted up into the colder part of the cloud. At that point, they become super cooled water droplets, and those will freeze when they come into contact with condensation. Over time, these ice crystals fall down, and then they will rise again. With each cycle, a new layer of ice forms until the droplet simply becomes too heavy and falls from the sky right onto you, or your roof.
See Also: The Power of Hail
A typical hailstone will range in size from anywhere between 5 and 200mm. Because they are circular in nature, people usually compare them to everyday objects depending on their size, with the most common being peas, golf balls, and grapefruit. Naturally, the larger the object, the more dangerous it is. This is because the larger the hailstone, the faster it falls from the sky. You might find it interesting to know that hailstones can fall so quickly from the sky that they have no time to melt before arriving at ground level. This explains why hail so frequently falls during the summer.
If you are around right after a hail storm, you will have some time to dissect the objects themselves. Cut one of the larger hailstones in half, and you will discover rings of ice. You can then add up the number of layers that you find to determine just how many times that stone actually made the trip to the top of the storm cloud before plummeting to Earth.
On a sober note, and as a reminder to take the forces of Mother Nature seriously, it is important to mention that hail can be deadly. Going back to 1888, history dictates that roughly 250 people were struck and killed by hail in India.