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Weather Whys: Hail

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It's time for another week of Weather Whys! The Stormtracker 19 Weather Team is ready to take your weather questions, and we are ready with the answers!

This week's question is from Kae: "Why do some storms produce hail and others do not? Also, why are some hailstones baseball-sized and some only pea-sized?

We'll start by looking within a storm cloud. In that storm cloud, a strong updraft is creating this thunderstorm but is also helping to form hail. Small ice crystals and water droplets are then tossed around in this updraft. While this occurs it can encounter the freezing level at the top of the storm cloud and then the small ice crystals start to gather and grow. This ice crystal then becomes a chunk of ice or formally known as hail. Once the piece of hail is too heavy for the updraft it will fall to the surface.

The key ingredients to feature when forming hail are having a strong updraft, wind shear, vertical extent, a deep-freezing layer, high liquid water content and large water droplets. So, not all thunderstorms include these variables which will then decrease the likelihood of hail forming. Then when variables are present sometimes it can be stronger or weaker with certain storms which would lead to smaller or larger hailstones.

And that’s your Weather Why!

Each Wednesday on Daybreak and during the News 19 6 PM Report, the Stormtracker Weather Team will answer viewer weather questions. Email and online at

Stormtracker 19 Meteorologist Alyssa Triplett

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Alyssa Triplett

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