Hail

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Autumn · Winter

Dry season · Wet season

Thunderstorm · Supercell
Downburst · Lightning
Tornado · Waterspout
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Extratropical cyclone
Winter storm · Blizzard · Ice storm
Dust storm · Firestorm  · Cloud

Drizzle · Rain  · Snow · Graupel
Freezing rain · Ice pellets · Hail

Meteorology · Climate
Weather forecasting
Heat wave · Air pollution

Hail is a form of solid precipitation which consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, that are individually called hail stones. Hail stones on Earth consist mostly of water ice and measure between 5 millimetres (0.20 in) and 150 millimetres (5.9 in) in diameter, with the larger stones coming from severe thunderstorms. The METAR reporting code for hail 5 millimetres (0.20 in) or greater in diameter is GR, while smaller hailstones and graupel are coded GS. Hail is possible with most thunderstorms as it is produced by cumulonimbi (thunderclouds),[1] usually at the leading edge of a severe storm system. Hail is possible within 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) of its parent thunderstorm. Hail formation requires environments of strong, upward motion of air with the parent thunderstorm (similar to tornadoes) and lowered heights of the freezing level. Hail is most frequently formed in the interior of continents within the mid-latitudes of Earth, with hail generally confined to higher elevations within the tropics.

Unlike ice pellets, hail stones are layered and can be irregular and clumped together. Hail is composed of transparent ice or alternating layers of transparent and translucent ice at least 1 millimetre (0.039 in) thick, which are deposited upon the hail stone as it cycles through the cloud multiple times, suspended aloft by air with strong upward motion until its weight overcomes the updraft and falls to the ground. There are methods available to detect hail-producing thunderstorms using weather satellites and radar imagery. Hail stones generally fall at faster rates as they grow in size, though complicating factors such as melting, friction with air, wind, and interaction with rain and other hail stones can slow down their descent through Earth's atmosphere. Severe weather warnings are issued for hail when the stones reach a damaging size, as it can cause serious damage to man-made structures, and most commonly, farmers' crops. In the United States, the National Weather Service issues severe thunderstorm warnings for hail 1" or greater in diameter. This threshold, effective January 2010, marked an increase over the previous threshold of 3/4" hail. The change was made for two main reasons: a) public complacency and, b) recent research suggesting that damage does not occur until a hailstone reaches 1" in diameter.

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