Why does hail form?

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With Utah’s severe weather season right around the corner, it really peaks from the middle of May through the middle of June. Thunderstorms come with many hazards from gusty winds to lightning to heavy rain. However, small to large hail can be a big nuisance and sometimes lead to property damage.

The pinpoint weather team’s Alana Brophy explains how hail forms in the attached video.

In a strong thunderstorm, you tend to get a significant updraft and downdraft.

That updraft will carry raindrops into the upper atmosphere where it’s colder, those raindrops will freeze into hailstones.

The air within a cloud will begin to bump the hailstones around. At the same time, there is supercooled water in the cloud, supercooling happens when you lower the temperature of a liquid below freezing but it doesn’t become solid. When those hail stones collide with the supercooled water droplets, the hailstones grow.

Eventually, the hailstones will become too heavy for the cloud to hold them so they begin to fall to the ground and we often see a lot of it fall at one time

As hail falls from storm clouds, they will fall in all shapes and sizes. The size of hailstone matters. It often indicates the intensity or size of a storm. We tend to see a lot of hail in Utah and regionally. Typically, it ranges from the size of a pea to a nickel. This is an indication of a strong storm. A severe storm tends to bring larger hail from the size of a quarter to as large as a softball.

The unconfirmed record for hail size in Utah is 3.5 inches in diameter out of Coalville, that’s between a baseball and softball in size. 

When it comes to Utah’s thunderstorms, they need to reach an inch in diameter to be classified as severe and as we head into the monsoon season, we will see plenty of days with small to large hail impacting the region

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