Hail

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hail is a form of precipitation which consists of balls or lumps of ice. Hailstones on Earth usually consist mostly of water ice, measuring between 5 and 150 millimeters in diameter, with the larger stones coming from severe thunderstorms. Hail is only produced by cumulonimbi (thunderclouds), usually at the front of the storm system, and is composed of transparent ice or alternating layers of transparent and translucent ice at least 1 mm thick.

Hail forms in storm clouds when supercooled water droplets freeze on contact with condensation nuclei, such as dust or dirt. The storm's updraft blows the hailstones to the upper part of the cloud. The updraft dissipates and the hailstones fall down, back into the updraft, and are lifted up again. The hailstone gains an ice layer and grows increasingly larger with each ascent. Once a hailstone becomes too heavy to be supported by the storm's updraft, it falls drops from the cloud.

Hail