Hail is a type of frozen precipitation unique from other forms such as snow and sleet. Hailstones are made up of ice and water and often form during thunderstorms. They can be small or large and can cause property damage or injure people. We will look closely at hailstone formation and how it compares to other types of frozen precipitation.
Types of Hail
There are two main types of hail, hard hail and soft hail.
Hard hail is more significant and denser than soft hail and often causes more damage. Soft hail is smaller and lighter and usually does not cause as much damage.
Hailstones vary, some as small as a pea and others as large as a grapefruit. The largest hailstone on record was 20 inches in diameter and weighed nearly two pounds. While hail can be dangerous, it is not the only type of frozen precipitation that can pose a threat.
Comparison of Hail with Other Forms of Frozen Precipitation
Hail is Larger than Both Sleet and Snow
Sleet is small, round pellets of ice that generally form when raindrops fall through a layer of cold air and freeze. Snowflakes, on the other hand, are much smaller than hail and are flaky in appearance—hail forms in thunderstorms when water drops are carried into the atmosphere and freeze. As the frozen drops fall back to earth, they are caught in updrafts and moved back into the clouds. This process can happen several times, causing the hailstone to grow in size. The hailstones eventually become too heavy to be taken by the updrafts and fall to the ground.
Hail can Cause Damage to Property and Injure People
The hailstone size can vary from that of a pea to that of a grapefruit. The more giant hailstones can cause significant damage to property, such as breaking windows or denting cars. They can also injure people if they hit them. On the other hand, Sleet and snow are much smaller and are not generally known to cause property damage or injuries.
Hail, Sleet, and Snow all have Different Effects on the Environment
Hail can damage crops, while Sleet and snow can benefit them. Hailstones can break tree branches and damage leaves. Sleet and snow can insulate plants and protect them from cold temperatures. All three types of frozen precipitation can cause problems for transportation. Hail can make driving difficult and dangerous, while Sleet and snow can make roads icy and slippery.
All Three Types of Frozen Precipitation are Created Differently
Hail is created when water drops are carried into the atmosphere and freeze. Sleet forms when raindrops fall through a layer of cold air and freeze. Snowflakes form when tiny bits of ice or dust in the atmosphere stick together and grow larger. Hail, Sleet, and snow are all types of frozen precipitation.
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