DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — A strong thunderstorm that developed west of Columbus Friday afternoon produced large hail between Plain City and Delaware between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Hail forms when a thunderstorm contains a persistent strong updraft into a very cold environment, where tiny liquid droplets freeze and form ice crystals.
The hailstone is suspended by the vigorous updraft and acquires layers of ice, until it becomes heavy enough to be tossed out of the side of a thunderstorm, or the updraft weakens and can no longer keep the hail in the upper part of the storm.
A swath of hail on the ground can extend several miles and continue for 5 to 15 minutes, accumulating like a snowfall, despite warm spring or summer weather.
Large hail (1 inch in diameter or larger) can cause property damage to vehicles and siding, beat down crops, and, rarely, result in injuries to someone caught outside in the storm.
Small hail is typically pea- or marble-sized. Large hail ranges from the size of a quarter to golfball-sized, and occasinally baseball/softball-sized, which requires an intense updraft of 80-100 mph.
The largest hailstone ever recorded occurred at Vivian, South Dakota, on July 23, 2010, that measured 8 inches in diameter and 18.625 inches in circumference.
Earlier this week, soft hail–called graupel–fell in a squall on Monday afternoon in the Columbus area. The difference between hail and graupel is the weather conditions. Snow pellets are associated with a cold air mass in the early spring, not a tall thunderstorm capable of producing lumpy, spiky hail.
On a cold spring day with surface temperatures well above freezing, snow falling from a cloud encounters water droplets in the lower layers of the atmosphere that freeze on contact, turning the snowflakes into tiny balls of ice that bounce like ping-pong balls on your windshield.