How does it hail in the summer? Does it ever amaze you?
Really, the fact is that we have little control over what Mother Nature wants to do.
However, it is crucial to know what kind of weather is typical and what is abnormal, especially now that global warming is creating extreme weather events.
But, can it hail in the summer? If it can, is it normal?
It can hail in the summer due to factors like atmospheric instability, temperature fluctuations, and humidity.
Witnessing Hail in the Summer
Hail is a summer weather occurrence.
It originates in the upper levels of powerful thunderstorms, where the air remains consistently cold, even in the middle of summer.
The majority of precipitation, including tropical rainfall, begins as snow in the clouds before turning to rain at ground level.
Fact: Hailstones are quite onions in that they also have multiple layers of ice.
The Formation of Hail
Hail is produced by the rapid acceleration of air molecules within thunderstorms.
Updrafts (air that rises) and downdrafts (air that falls) are both present in thunderstorms (sinking air).
Little ice crystals gather ice when water freezes on them after being repeatedly launched into the air by a thunderstorm.
The longer these stones are in the air during a thunderstorm, the larger they will become as they are tugged in opposite directions by the winds.
As a hailstone grows large enough, its weight overcomes the updraft, and it crashes to the ground.
To hold ice the size of softballs aloft in the air, the updraft must be severely churning, and this is why the heaviest hail falls in the strongest thunderstorms.
How Does It Hail in the Summer?
Extreme thunderstorms often create hail, which can be damaging because of the uneven shapes of the ice pellets it releases.
Although it is common to see hail occurring in the winter, many are surprised to learn that it can also occur in the summer.
The Hail Storm in Summer
Strong updrafts within severe thunderstorms propel water droplets into the freezing levels of the sky, where they solidify into hailstones.
When these droplets meet with other droplets or ice particles that have been supercooled, the collision causes the water to freeze.
A hailstone forms through this process and then grows as it collides with additional supercooled water droplets.
The hailstone drops to the ground as hail after its weight becomes too great for the updraft to bear.
Factors Responsible for Hail in the Summer
A number of factors play a role in causing hail in the summer, and some of them are highlighted below:
Humidity and Temperature
Hail is formed mainly by the combination of heat and humidity in the summer.
High temperatures are typical for the season, but the upper atmosphere is still cold enough to allow hailstones to form.
Hail is produced by intense thunderstorms that are fueled by the combination of ground-level heat and moisture, which causes convection.
When the air near the surface heats up, it creates powerful updrafts that quickly carry water droplets aloft.
Hailstones are formed when water droplets freeze in the upper atmosphere and collect around a nucleus.
Temperature and humidity are key ingredients in the development of summer hailstorms.
And the contrast between warm, moist conditions at the surface and frigid temperatures aloft highlights this.
Atmospheric Instability in the Summer
Hail is often formed in the summer because of atmospheric instability.
When the surface of the Earth soaks up heat, there is a noticeable temperature difference between the surface and the high atmosphere.
Hailstones cannot develop without the strong updrafts and downdrafts created by this temperature gradient, contributing to the production of convective currents.
Fact: The largest hail stone was reported in 2010 in the U.S., and its size was 18.2 inches around and 8 inches across.
The Effect of Atmospheric Instability
Rising air packets cool and condense when they encounter colder, drier air aloft, releasing latent heat.
By increasing the power of updrafts, this energy release encourages the growth of the towering cumulonimbus clouds characteristic of intense thunderstorms.
Because of this instability, water droplets are encouraged to rise quickly into the atmosphere’s freezing layers.
Once they reach that point, they begin to freeze, crashing into one another and gaining weight until they are too large for the updraft to carry.
And that is when they begin to fall as hailstones.
The Concept of Wind Shear
The term “wind shear” describes the difference in wind speed and direction at different altitudes in the atmosphere.
Thunderstorms and hail can develop and become more intense when substantial wind shear is present.
Mesocyclones, rotating updrafts within storm systems, can form in such an environment.
The Importance of Mesocyclones
Mesocyclones are crucial to the development of hail because they keep individual hailstones aloft for longer.
Due to the prolonged suspension, hailstones have a greater time to accumulate size through collisions with supercooled water droplets and other ice particles.
At the same time, the revolving updrafts help move hailstones upward, where they are subjected to more moisture and ice particles, increasing their potential for growth.
An Important Consideration
The larger the hailstones are when they hit the earth, the more damage they will do.
Understanding the complex interactions between atmospheric conditions and severe weather events like hailstorms is crucial for better prediction and preparedness.
Understanding the Implications of Hail in the Summer
Because of their size and uneven shape, hailstones can cause serious damage in many cases.
Here are the implications of hail in the summer:
Damage to Crops
Damage from hailstorms in the summer, when crops and fields are at their most vulnerable, can have a devastating effect on agriculture.
Irregular ice bullets can damage plants by bruising, shredding, or puncturing their soft leaves, stems, and fruits, reducing their yield and quality.
Farmers risk substantial financial losses due to lower crop yields and a jolt to the stability of the food supply system.
The Extent of Damage to Crops
Many factors play a role in determining the damage hailstorm can cause, including:
- The size of hailstones
- The density
- The length of the hailstorm
Large hailstones or persistent hailstorms can wreak havoc on entire fields, forcing farmers to either replant or give up on harvesting that season’s crop.
This puts a burden on farmers’ resources, which in turn affects shoppers through things like price swings and dwindling supplies.
In addition, hailstorms can upset the equilibrium of farmland ecosystems.
Crops that have been damaged are more likely to be attacked by pests and diseases, necessitating possibly more frequent pesticide applications.
Fact: The strong rainfall that often accompanies hailstorms can also cause soil erosion and nutrient runoff, posing a long-term risk to farmland and surrounding waterways.
Damage to Property
Hailstones can smash windows, dent cars, and rip off roofs, among other forms of serious property damage.
Not only this, damage from summer hailstorms can put a strain on local economies and raise insurance premiums because of the high cost of repairs.
Precautions and Safety Measures
Anyone caught outside during a summer hailstorm runs the risk of serious injury or death from the falling ice.
Therefore, it is important to take safety measures to avoid facing any serious issues.
Here is what you can do:
- Pay close attention to the weather prediction this summer, especially if you live in a region prone to heavy thunderstorms and hail.
- Make sure you have access to credible channels that report on the weather, such as the internet, radio, and television.
- Determine ahead of time where in your home is the safest to take refuge from a hailstorm, such as a basement or interior room with no windows.
- Protect your vehicle against possible hail damage by parking it in a garage or beneath a carport.
- Ensure outdoor furniture, garden equipment, and other items are secured or moved indoors.
- If you cannot relocate something because of its size or weight, outdoor covers may be a good option.
An Important Consideration
In the event that hail destroys your home, car, or other expensive possession, you will be glad you have insurance.
Check your plans annually, and make any required adjustments to ensure you have the right coverage.
You should also know how to file a claim in case of a hailstorm, so you can respond swiftly if one occurs.
Fact: Tree and shrub trimming can lessen the possibility of breakage and subsequent damage from hailstorms.
How does it hail in the summer? Summer hail can be an unexpected occurrence that proves Mother Nature’s actions are still unpredictable and outside our control.
Hail in the summer is not common, although it might occur due to unstable weather, temperature swings, and high humidity.
Understanding these weather events is becoming increasingly crucial as we experience the ever-evolving consequences of climate change.