Severe Weather Awareness Week: What is hail?

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 7:10 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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(WHSV) - The first day of Virginia’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is today. Our first segment is about hail.

Hail forms in thunderstorms and it is typical to see pea size hail in a storm. Hail one inch in diameter or larger characteristic of a severe storm.

Depending on how large the hail is, it can fall at speeds of 20 to 100 miles an hour. The stronger the lift in a storm, the larger the hail can grow. Falling hail combined with fierce winds can cause severe damage. One of the biggest threats from hail in our region is damage to crops.

For hail to be classified as severe, it has to be about a width of a quarter. Now in order for hail to damage your car, its got to be about golf ball sized-hail.

The largest hail we have seen in the Valley has been the size of a baseball. That’s 2.75 inches in diameter. Baseball sized hail happened in August 1989 in Augusta County between Staunton and Fishersville. Another occurrence of baseball sized hail fell in June 2009 in Stanley. The hail was accompanied by a tornado.

Tennis ball sized hail which is about 2.5 inches in diameter fell in Rockingham County in 1968.

The largest hailstone that fell in the US was in 2010 in South Dakota. It was 8 inches in diameter. The hailstone also had a circumference of 18 inches!

While extremely large hail is rare in the area, it has happened.

Sometimes hail can fall in massive quantities making it look like snow fell. This occurred recently in our area. In April 2020, places across Augusta County and Staunton had hail 2 inches deep in places.

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