Storms brought as large as half-dollar sized hail to areas around Austin just in time for rush hour traffic Thursday. Ouch!
The hail was large enough to cause some damage to cars on the roadways. Of course, many were concerned that perhaps the hail would become even larger. Thankfully, it didn't. However, why does the size of hail vary so much?
Let's talk about it.
Thunderstorms are created when two different air masses collide. Warm air is less dense than cold air which means the warm air rises: an updraft.
If the updraft is strong, it can lift raindrops in thunderstorms thousands of feet where the air is below freezing.
The raindrops freeze into hailstones that continue to grow in size as other ice crystals and raindrops collide with it.
The stronger the updraft, the longer the hailstones remain swirling in the air. Eventually, the hailstones grow large enough to overcome the updraft and they fall to the ground.
That means if you have a powerful thunderstorm that has a very strong updraft, hailstones can grow to the size of baseballs or even larger.