The severe thunderstorms have been rather limited so far this spring. Keep in mind our severe weather season goes through May, so there will be more opportunities for strong to severe thunderstorms.
Hail is a big threat across eastern Oklahoma nd western Arkansas. Large damaging supercell thunderstorms have produced softball size hail; sometimes it’s so loud it’s hard for us to hear while we are on the air during severe weather coverage.
This is a graphic I took from the National Severe Storms Laboratory. This map represents the probability of 2 inch size hail or greater. Look at the bullseye across central and western Oklahoma!
According to NSSL, the largest hailstone recorded in the US was in Aurora, Colorado. It was 7 inches in diameter with a circumference of 18.75 inches.
The most deadly hailstorm on record occurred in India on April 30, 1988, killing 246 people and 1600 domesticated animals.
There is no clear distinction between storms that do and do not produce hailstones. Nearly all severe thunderstorms probably produce hail aloft, though it may melt before reaching the ground. Multi-cell thunderstorms produce many hailstones, but not usually the largest hailstones. In the life cycle of the multi-cell thunderstorm, the mature stage is relatively short so there is not much time for growth of the hailstone. Supercell thunderstorms have sustained updrafts that support large hail formation by repeatedly lifting the hailstones into the very cold air at the top of the thunderstorm cloud. In general, hail 2 inches (5 cm) or larger in diameter is associated with supercells (a little larger than golf ball size which the NWS considers to be 1.75 inch.) Non-supercell storms are capable of producing golf ball size hail.
In all cases, the hail falls when the thunderstorm’s updraft can no longer support the weight of the ice. The stronger the updraft the larger the hailstone can grow.
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