Hail

May 18, 2022

Last weekend I attended a graduation party for a friend who was transitioning from Law School to an out of state position as a lawyer.  The party favors were amusing as they had a “lawyer” bent, including M&Ms with a legal scale on the obverse of the usual M.  The sky was clouding up when I arrived, but I did not think about it too much.  I blended into the conversation until we heard a car alarm go off in the street.  When we looked outside the rain was coming down in torrents and hail had set off the alarm.  The host rushed to get his vehicle under the awning but there was nothing to do for the cars parked in the street and on the lawn. The hail was not large, but it came in buckets and bounced off the vehicles parked outside.

When I looked online, I found hail is defined as a solid form of precipitation that is distinct from ice pellets (sleet).  Hail consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, with each called a hailstone.  Ice pellets fall in cold weather, but colder temperatures inhibit the accumulative growth of hail.  Hail stones are larger than other forms of water ice precipitation, such as graupel (rime ice), ice pellets (smaller and translucent), and snow (crystalline flakes), and measure between 0.2 inches (5 mm) and 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter.  Hail is possible during most thunderstorms and can be blown by winds as far as 2.3 miles (3.7 km) from the parent storm.  Formation requires a strong, upward motion of air within the thunderstorm (like tornadoes) and a lowered height of freezing level.  The size of hailstones is best determined by measuring their diameter with a ruler but is often estimated by comparing it to a known object, like a coin, a golf ball, or a baseball.

The hail we received ranged in size from a nickel to a quarter.  The terminal velocity of hail, or the speed when it strikes the ground, varies depending on the size of the stones.  It is estimated that a hailstone of 1 cm (0.39 in) in diameter falls at a rate of 9 m/s (20 mph), while stones the size of 8 cm (3.1 in) in diameter fall at a rate of 48 m/s (110 mph).  Hailstone velocity varies dependent on the drag coefficient, the motion of the wind it is falling through, collisions with raindrops or other hailstones, and melting as the stones fall through a warmer atmosphere.  It is difficult to accurately calculate drag coefficient as hailstones are not perfect spheres.  I later heard I was lucky.  Just a few blocks south they received baseball size hail on the Interstate.

THOUGHTS:  Hail can cause serious damage to vehicles, buildings, livestock, and crops.  Rare massive hailstones are known to cause concussions or fatal head trauma.  One of the earliest recorded incidents occurred in 9th century India, where 200 to 600 people died of injuries from hail the size of cricket balls.  The heaviest recorded hail stone was 2.25 lb (1.02 kg) in 1986, and the largest official diameter is 7.9 in (20 cm) diameter and 8.622 in (47.3 cm) in circumference in 2010.  Hail damage often goes unnoticed until another repair is required.  Melissa could not see the damage to my truck (I did) even though the estimate found extensive damage.  Words can cause similar unseen damage that can also be extensive.  We need to practice only saying words that we want others to say to us.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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