How Hail Forms - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

How Hail Forms

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Great Falls was under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning Sunday afternoon. Hopefully you were inside when it hailed, but it left some of us wondering how it all happens. Meteorologist Adam Koslen explains.

Many of you shared photos of hail with us.  It quickly coated this table and others ended up with their hands full. I had pea size hail come down in my backyard, meanwhile at our KFBB studio Micah encountered marble size hail.

"And remember the National Weather Service definition of a severe thunderstorm includes hail of 1" in diameter or greater. We had several reports of severe hail right here in central Montana. Let's take a look at a couple of these reports. The hail fell from just after 3 to around 3:45 yesterday afternoon. We had a report of 1" diameter hail coming in  near the Great Falls area and also up to an inch and three quarters near Sun Prairie, that report was at 3:20 yesterday afternoon," said Meteorologist Adam Koslen.

So what causes hail?

Hail forms in the updraft region of a thunderstorm. A hail producing thunderstorm will need to have a strong updraft. Hail forms as supercooled droplets, ice crystals and water freeze upon a core. Once hail forms, gravity will apply a force on the hail to bring it to the earth's surface. If the updraft is stronger than the influence from gravity, the hail stone will continue to grow. Once the hail reaches a size that the updraft can no longer keep aloft, the hail stone will make its way to the surface.
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