Severe Thunderstorms Can Bring Hail that Could Cause Damage - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Severe Thunderstorms Can Bring Hail that Could Cause Damage

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Chris Foltz is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Great Falls.  He explains, "hail forms in a really strong thunderstorm and basically how it forms is you get moisture that gets pulled up into the upper parts of the thunderstorm where temperatures are really cold, generally -20 to -40 degrees, and as that water gets pulled up it freezes almost like an ice cube does in your freezer. With time that will fall back toward the Earth".

The longer hail cycles in the thunderstorm, the bigger it can get until it falls back to Earth.  Foltz says, "we've had hail as big as 5 inches in diameter over the past 20-30 years".  Today we are expecting somewhat smaller hail, about the size of an egg.  Foltz says, "with the storms we are expecting later today, especially as you get east of Great Falls, there is a threat of hail stones in excess of 2 inches is diameter".

Most of the recent storms have produced small penny-size hail, but storms can vary largely from one location to another.  Foltz says, "last night we had a storm in Glacier County that produced hail up to the size of ping pong balls or larger".

Hail of all sizes can cause damage from small dents to much bigger problems.  Steve Howard, owner of Procraft CARSTAR in Great Falls says large hail can cause windshields, tail lights, and head lights to break affecting the functionality of the car.   Sheet metal dents are mostly cosmetic damage.

Usually hail doesn't discriminate against cars.  Howard says, "hail usually when it strikes a panel it's equal damage no matter make or model it is. We do see some of the more economical, fuel efficient cars do sustain more damage,  but for the most part hail does even damage".

The best way to avoid damage is to shelter your vehicle before a storm hits.  Howard warns that trees do not make the best shelter since limbs can fall on your car as well.  If your car has body damage, experts do not recommend the do-it-yourself method.  Howard says there are many different theories out there, but he does not know of any that actually work and says,"basically everyone ends up here".

He advises taking your vehicle to an auto body repair shop where they can evaluate the damage and find a solution that's right for you.

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