If you have lived anywhere near Denver, Colorado for any length of time you have probably seen the effects of a nasty hail storm. You may have even experienced first-hand what a hailstorm can do to a vehicle caught out in it. Maybe you’ve even visited us here at Rocky Mountain Dent Service Inc. because of that unfortunate experience. But have you ever stopped and wondered, what causes hail anyway? Is not it a bit incredible that such great big chunks of ice can come hurtling down out of the sky? As frustrating as the effects of hail can be, the fact that it exists is just another testament to the incredible beauty and power of the world in which we live.
So, what causes hail? It’s fairly simple. First, there needs to be a thunderstorm going on high up in the atmosphere. It can not be just any thunderstorm, though, it needs to have strongly tilted updrafts of air churning within the storm. In order to get that you need to have a highly unstable mass of air created by temperatures falling off much more sharply than normal, in relation to its height. This unstable air is what produces those strong updrafts needed to keep the forming hailstones from falling to the ground. Amazingly enough, sometimes those updrafts can get up to about 60 mph or even more, depending on the strength of the storm and variance in temperature.
Then water begins to condense around a speck of dust or some other random particle high up in the atmosphere, and when it gets pushed up above the freezing line, it turns to ice. As it picks up more water, it gets heavier and starts to fall. Then, the hail finds itself in another of those updrafts and goes back up again. The more this happens, the bigger the ice ball gets, until finally it is too heavy for the updraft to lift back up or it moves to a different spot and bypasses the updraft completely on its way to earth. Hopefully, it makes it directly to the ground and does not hit your car or damage your house in the process.
Depending on where you are, hail usually never gets big enough to cause extensive damage to homes and businesses, just maybe a few dings along the top of your car. Luckily that is easy enough to fix with a quick trip to Rocky Mountain Dent Service Inc. We’ll use our paintless dent process to get your car looking new again before you know it. Sometimes, however, hail can get big enough to be deadly. One of the worst hail disasters ever happened in India in 1888, and over 250 people died either immediately or later from injuries inflicted by large chunks of hail. So to be on the safe side, when you hear about a hailstorm in the forecast it is best to get yourself and your vehicle to a safe covered area for the duration of the storm.