GRAND REPIDS, MICHIGAN (GRES) – Western Michigan is no stranger to welcome, and State Farm ranks Michigan as the 17th largest country in the country in claims due to hail damage.
Hail in Michigan can range from small pebbles to baseballs. The largest stones registered in the state fell in 2015 in the area of the Western Branch.
The largest hail that has ever fallen, according to the National Weather Service, fell in South Dakota in 2010. The width of the hail was a whopping eight inches, more than twice that of a baseball.
Hail with a diameter of inches and more can cause damage. If a storm can cause a hail the size of an inch, it is warned as “strong”.
HOW IS IT FORMED?
Hail is formed unlike any other type of precipitation. Thunderstorms, rising high in the sky, carry drops of water from a nearby surface to a height of several thousand feet in the air. When water droplets fall to great heights, they freeze into icy fragments. This is the first step towards hail formation.
These small ridges will often move up and down in a storm cloud, rolling up and down in the sky. Traveling through the clouds, ridges collide with super-cold water droplets. This covers the stones with layers of new ice, allowing them to increase in size.
The ridges will grow in proportion to the strength of the storm. If the storm has a very strong upward flow, it will be able to maintain larger ridges for longer periods of time. Once the hailstones grow so large that they can no longer be held by the wind in the stream, they fall to the ground under the action of gravity and in proportion to their weight.
This means that larger ridges fall faster.
Most of the small hailstones are expected to fall at a rate of about 20 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. Baseball-sized hail is estimated to fall 45 to 70 miles per hour!
WHAT TO DO WHEN HALF IS HUNTED
Hail can be extremely dangerous. Watch the weather to avoid the days when hail is most likely to occur. If you are caught in a hailstorm, do not go into it.
Sometimes the hail can be of different sizes. While at first it may seem that the storm gives a hail the size of a pea, larger hails may begin to fall.
If you get in the car during a thunderstorm, don’t panic. Stop driving if you can, and drive to the curb to reduce the hail force on your car and reduce the chance of losing control of the car. Find a coat or blanket to cover your face and head, in case hail can break the glass. Hail of this magnitude is rare, and in most cases the roof and windshield will stay in place, even if the hail is relatively large.
It is always best to be aware of days when severe hail storms may form so you can make a plan to stay safe.