What Is Hail? Everything You Need to Know About Hail

May 22, 2020 | Hail Damage Repair

hail-on-palm

“Hail destroyed my car again!”

Now, doesn’t this sound familiar? 

If you’re living within a state that has frequent hailstorms such as Texas or Colorado, that sentence is one of the many complaints you’ve heard over the years. Without fail, hailstorms have wreaked havoc on multiple properties such as cars, homes, and sometimes even injuring humans every year.

Despite having multiple ‘interactions’ with hailstorms, most of us don’t really know what constitutes as hail, or even know how it forms. Is hail ice? Or is it some form of hard snow? Let’s find out.

What Is Hail?

The first thing you should know about hailstones is that they are not frozen raindrops.

Frozen raindrops freeze when they’re close to the ground, whereas hail falls frozen.

Hail is defined as dense precipitation of ice that is at least 0.2 inch to 6 inches in diameter. Ice precipitations smaller than 0.2 inches are ‘ice pellets’, also known as sleet or small hail. The official definition of severe hail must be greater than 1 inch, as stated by the National Weather Service.

Aside from the size variations, hailstones can be round or jagged too.

It’s important to remember that hail is dangerous, no matter the size. Even the smallest classified hailstone of 0.2 inch can still do significant damage to your property.

Why?

Because there is more to it than just shape and diameter. Wind speed during a hailstorm can play a significant factor in how fast and hard, hail will fall too.

So How Does Hail Form?

As mentioned earlier, hail is a form of precipitation in the atmosphere. When water droplets are carried upward by thunderstorm updrafts, they freeze instantly in the cold atmospheric temperatures. These hailstones grow when they collide with water droplets.

The water droplet will freeze along the hailstone’s surface, adding width to its diameter. The stronger the updraft is, the larger hail can grow.

Depending on the atmospheric conditions within the thunderstorm, hailstone ice layers can either be cloudy or clear.

How Does Hail Fall to the Ground?

There are two main reasons why hailstones fall:

  1.     They become too heavy to stay in the cloud.
  2.     The thunderstorm’s updraft is too weak to support the hailstones.

When one of the two situations occurs, we’ll see hail falling from the sky.

For hailstones to remain in the clouds, the updraft speed must be maintained. An updraft speed of 30-35mph is needed to keep a dime sized hail in the clouds, 50-55mph for golf ball sized hail, and 100mph or more for baseball sized hail.

How Fast Does Hail Fall?

Several things can fluctuate the speed of a falling hailstone such as the local wind conditions. However, the size of the hailstone plays one of the biggest factors in how fast it can fall.

For small hailstones (less than 1 inch), the expected fall speed is around 9-25mph. Hailstones between 1 to 1.75 inch, commonly seen in severe thunderstorms, the expected fall speed is around 25-40mph. For hailstones between 2-4 inches, the expected fall speed is around 44-72mph. For hailstones larger than 4 inches, it may fall at a speed greater than 100mph.

How Big Can Hail Get?

The longer hailstones stay in the clouds, the bigger they will get.

The largest recorded hailstone in the United States is 8 inches in diameter. This 8 inch hail was discovered in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010. It weighed close to 2 pounds, and it had a circumference of 18.5 inches.   

However, the commonly seen hailstones during hailstorms are classified as the following sizes:

  •   Pea size (0.25 inch)
  •   Mothball (0.5 inch)
  •   Penny (0.75 inch)
  •   Nickel (0.86 inch)
  •   Quarter (1 inch)
  •   Ping-pong ball (1.5 inch)
  •   Golf ball (1.75 inch)
  •   Hen egg (2 inch)
  •   Tennis ball (2.5 inch)
  •   Baseball (2.75 inch)
  •   Teacup (3 inch)
  •   Softball (4 inch)
  •   Grapefruit (4.5 inch)

What Is Hail Alley?

Now that we know more about hail, let’s talk about where it hits most.

While hailstorms can happen anywhere across the United States with the right conditions, some states have hailstorms more frequently than others. Most people know this cluster of states as ‘Hail Alley’.  

Starting from the southeast region of Wyoming, to the northeast of Colorado, western Nebraska, and Kansas, these four states have the most frequent hailstorms every year. This is mainly because Hail Alley is located close to the Rocky Mountains, allowing cold air and the altitude to play a role in hail development around Hail Alley.

Three of the four states in Hail Alley appear in NICB’s 2017-2019 United States Hail Loss Claims Report.  Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas are ranked within the top 10 states to have the most hail loss claims from 2017 to 2019, with Colorado taking up 14% of the total US hail claim. Texas takes up 23% of US hail claims, which brings Colorado in second place.

The Impact of Hail

Hail causes much damage to anything exposed out in the open -sometimes even injuring or killing livestock and people.

The bigger the hail is, the bigger the damage it will bring. This also means that the cost of repairs would increase significantly.

However, no matter the size of the hailstone, it’s important to take necessary precautions when you know a hailstorm is coming. You should always find shelter and stay clear from windows or any exposed area during a hailstorm. With that said, while protecting yourself or others may be easy, there are certain items that you would probably have to leave out in the open, such as your car.

When your car is in the open with no protection, you’d likely need auto hail damage repair.

What Is Hail Damage Repair?

Hail damage repair is the process of repairing your car for any signs of hail damage. There are two types of repair procedures: traditional repair and Paintless Dent Repair.

If your car went through a hailstorm, you might feel it’s impossible for your car to look the same again.

However, this isn’t always the case.

Hail damage repair is a long and complicated process especially if you plan to fix it on your own to save costs. But with the right people, this process can be both fast, easy and affordable. 

Our PDR Service

At Hail Specialists, we utilize Paintless Dent Repair for all repairs. Paintless Dent Repair, also known as PDR, is an advanced restorative process that returns your car to its original condition. With PDR, we can easily remove all dents and dings made by hailstones during a storm in less than 3 days.

The reason why our PDR repairs are so quick is because we don’t use body fillers to fill in the dent on your car. Instead, we massage the dent out without even repainting your car.

By allowing us to repair your auto hail damage with PDR, you not only save time but money too! We cover your insurance deductible and make sure that you retain your car’s value

If the process of filing your insurance claim for hail damage is too complicated or long, fret not. You don’t have to take a minute of your day to file your insurance claim because we’ll help you file it for free! When you’re hit with a hailstorm, there are many things you’d have to handle and worry about. We want to help you take one worry off your mind by making our repair process as fast and efficient as possible.

From filing your insurance claim, providing you with a free rental car, to a lifetime warranty -we’re with you the entire way.

Save time, money and retain your car’s value with our quick PDR repair.

Call us now at 210-428-5996 or request an assessment today!

 

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