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steve raike

What the…Hail?

Posted by on 4/3/13 at 02:01pm

There were big rumblings in the San Antonio over the last few days as some severe weather moved through the area and for any budding meteorologists there has been plenty to see.  The following images are from various hailstones that fell in the Alamo Heights Sunday evening area courtesy of Bailey and Lauren Raike who risked life and limb to retrieve them.  As you can see in the attached images the hailstones come in many shapes and sizes from the typical spheroidal pellet to the almost snowflake like structure.

Hail-2

Hail forms in strong thunderstorm clouds, particularly those with intense updrafts, high liquid water content, great vertical extent, large water droplets, and where a good portion of the cloud layer is below freezing.  These types of strong updrafts can also indicate the presence of a tornado which we thankfully did not have.

Hail-3

Like other precipitation in cumulonimbus clouds hail begins as water droplets. As the droplets rise in the updraft and the temperature goes below freezing, they become supercooled water and will freeze on contact with condensation nuclei. Some theories maintain that hailstones are subjected to multiple descents and ascents, falling into a zone of humidity and refreezing as they were uplifted. This up and down motion is thought to be responsible for the successive layers of the hailstone.

Hail-4

The most interesting theory on the formation of these specific hailstones however is that they tears of celestial joy manifest at the end of a long weekend of college basketball that saw both Duke and Kansas lose before getting to the final four.

Hail-5

  • Love this – the Texas storms return and we get a lesson in meteorology. Thanks, Steve! I’m glad Bailey is a curious kid!

  • Ashley Heeren

    Super interesting and amazing to see these beautiful shapes! However, I am skeptical of the last theory of their formation.