Facts About Hail

Common Disaster

Home Hazards

When homeowners think about home hazards, their minds typically think of fire. Secondly, they think of their most common regional disaster—earthquakes in California, tornadoes in the Midwest, hurricanes in the South, and flooding in New England.

Hail Damage

Hail is often an afterthought

Getting hit by a ball of falling ice can cause severe damage. Hail dents cars and breaks windows. Hail can also destroy roofs. In regions where Hailstorms are common, the seasonal pummeling smashes shingles, breaks through wood, and eventually can riddle your roof with small holes. If your roof goes, your house goes.

So let’s look at some facts about hail and what makes it dangerous:

Hail Introduction

facts about hail

So let’s look at some facts about hail and what makes it dangerous.

Hail is formed at high altitudes within massive clouds when supercooled water droplets adhere to each other and form layers of ice. The average velocity of a falling hailstone is approximately 106 miles per hour (mph).

A hailstone begins as an updraft and draws water droplets inside a thundercloud—these supercooled water droplets join together with other droplets, forming layers of ice. As the layers of ice reach higher elevations within the cloud, they come into contact with more supercooled particles. Within the upper altitude of the cloud, the temperature is too low (at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit) for water molecules to remain in a liquid or gaseous state. Therefore, the hail seed will grow larger and larger as it reaches higher and higher altitudes.

Hail suspended within the cloud continues to gain considerable measure depending on how much time it spends surrounded by supercooled water droplets. But, eventually, gravity causes the stone to fall back to Earth. In 2010, the largest hailstone found in the United States (Vivian, South Dakota) was 8 inches in diameter, 18.5 inches in circumference, and weighed approximately two pounds.

Hail falls to Earth at approximately 106 miles per hour. However, each stone’s exact velocity will vary depending on several conditions, such as the amount of air friction and possible collisions with other falling objects.

The more giant hailstones are, the faster they fall. Therefore, large hail sometimes precedes a tornado since the conditions to produce a large shower are the same to create a tornado. However, tornadoes can and do form without any hail being present.

Several atmospheric conditions must materialize for hailstorms to develop. First, highly developed Cumulonimbus clouds need to be present. These massive anvil or mushroom-shaped clouds seen during thunderstorms can reach heights up to 65,000 feet. There must also be strong currents of air ascending through these clouds. These currents are commonly known as updrafts. Updrafts contain ice particles because water droplets become solid ice at the cold temperatures at high altitudes within these massive clouds. Last but not least, clouds must contain high concentrations of supercooled liquid water.
Hail size is typically compared to a known object. However, most hailstorms consist of different sizes, and only the most giant hailstones pose a severe risk to people caught in the open. Therefore, when reporting hail, estimates comparing the hail to a known object with a definite size are good, but measurements using a ruler, calipers, or a tape measure are best.

Pea = 1/4 inch diameter
Mothball = 1/2 inch diameter
Penny = 3/4 inch diameter
Nickel = 7/8 inch
Quarter = 1 inch — hail quarter size or larger is considered severe
Ping-Pong Ball = 1 1/2 inch
Golf Ball = 1 3/4 inches
Tennis Ball = 2 1/2 inches
Baseball = 2 3/4 inches
Tea cup = 3 inches
Softball = 4 inches

Hail is considered an act of God. Unlike a fire, you can’t personally cause hail to happen, nor can you do much to protect your property from it. There is no such thing as a hail extinguisher like there is a fire extinguisher.

When a hail storm causes damage, your insurance company must accurately assess the damage and approve an adequate payout. First National Responders is here to work with you and your insurance company to get your property repaired with minimal interruption to your life.


We have adjusters in your area today. Don’t wait! Call now to book your appointment.