Hail4-300x224An umbrella inside can be a great safety measure rather than bad luck. Hail stones are balls of ice than can fall from the sky during strong to severe thunderstorms. The rising warm air that develops the storm in the first place, can push water droplets high enough in the sky above the freezing level. If the conditions are right, droplets will freeze, fall down, and get pushed back up again growing larger as it gains a new layer of ice. In some cases this can reach baseball or softball size, which can do a lot of damage. One of the best videos showing impromptu safety measures was near Dallas back in 2012.

Hail Safety
This video clip shows a woman doing one of the smartest things I’ve seen. While stuck in the storm in Lakewood, TX (a Dallas suburb) in a soft-top convertible, she opened her umbrella to protect herself. She expected the soft top on her convertible might tear open, but breaking glass is a danger to all drivers (see the slide show). In this case, opening an umbrella inside not bad luck, but smart thinking. The formal advice would be to pull under a bridge for cover (not the case in tornadoes), but a bridge or overpass may not be available. I might be overstatig the obvious, but I should point out that you should pull your cover over first and put on your hazzard lights before you open that umbrella.


Hail Car Damage:

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What is Hail?
Large hail may seem rare, but even in Maryland we have had bad ones. See the photos from the La Plata tornado when baseball size hail fell on the other side of that storm. When hail grows to the size of golf balls then the likelihood of windows breaking becomes more real. Contrary to what many think, it is not warmer than normal temperatures that feed these storms, but colder air aloft. These balls of ice grow in large super cell thunderstorms where strong updrafts carry raindrops higher in the cloud to where they freeze. As these little chunks of ice fall, they can get carried back up and collect another layer of ice as more water droplets freeze. Each trip can be counted by cutting a hail stone in half and counting the layers of ice like tree rings.

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