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The March 1st, 2003 Hail Storm

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Aw, HAIL! Here We Go, Again!

The below photos were taken by Alachua County SKYWARN storm spotter Michael Robinett, KE4UVQ; spotter ID number ALA-042. They were taken about 15 minutes after the hail actually fell and was reported to the ongoing SKYWARN net on a local ham radio repeater.

CLICK ME for a larger map. The photos were taken from the property of Al Pinson, K4AFP, in Monteocha, twelve miles northeast of Gainesville - in northeastern Alachua County. Mike said that the scene remained much intact for TWO HOURS after the first photos were taken. (THEORY: Maybe so much cold air generated locally on the ground by all the hail there allowed it to remain for so long? We're pretty sure that it - and the high humidity afterwards - had a LOT to do with the thick, lingering fog bank that was there.)

The hail seen at Al's house ranged in size from about 3"+, and less; and shapes varied wildly from round, to oblong, to concave lens, to "melted meteor." One large round glob even had four sharp "points" on it. (see below) The larger pieces seemed to be composed of a lot of much smaller hailstones which were apparently melted together into one huge piece while being carried up and down inside the clouds and mixed with the rains.

You have to remember that hail just doesn't "appear" somewhere in a cloud and then drop. Hail is created slowly. A dust particle accrues fine water particles and becomes a rain drop. This is carried up into the freezing areas of the cloud where the drop is frozen. Then it falls back down into the warmer area of the cloud where it collects more water. Then it's thrown back up again into the freezing area where it freezes again, now larger. This process repeats a number of times before the hail finally gets large enough and heavy enough to fall as the thing we see. If you cut a hail stone in half, you would be able to see a number of layers - like trees rings. This gives you a clue how many times a hailstone went up and down inside the cloud. But the LARGER hailstones seemed to be composed of many smaller hailstones which had been melted together and then frozen one last time like that before finally falling to the ground.

Damage was suffered to Al's home, to his outdoor greenhouse, to his huge pickup truck, and to his wife's car. His truck suffered three (3) cracks in the windshield from three separate hits, and so many dents upon the roof and hood of the vehicle that it was just not worth counting. Leaves were everywhere, and on top of everything, having been sliced from the trees by the falling hail.

Al described the sounds of the hail. He said that it became a constant rushing sound. Then you could hear the larger ones hitting the roof with loud thuds. "You could even hear it hitting the ground," he added.

[Hail in rain gutter.] When Michael Robinett arrived at Al's home, he said that the hail was piled up all along the inside of the rain gutters. It was piled up in mounds under the exits of the gutter drains on the ground. The hail was backed up INSIDE the gutter drains, too; and as it melted, it would settle and fall down the drains in a "rush"...and you could hear it. "It sounded like ice in an ice machine when it did that," Mike said.

Shaking Al's hand, Todd Sherman, Alachua County SKYWARN Coordinator, said "Congratulations, Al! You've just been initiated!"

"Oh, I've been through this before," Al said, waving his hand.

"Oh, yah! Me, too!" said Todd. "I know how yuh feel!" (See May 14th, 2000 event.)

Al grinned. "Yah, but...mine was bigger."

The Photos

Click on any photo to see the larger image.

Our grateful thanks go to Michael Robinett/KE4UVQ for his permission to display his images; and to Al Pinson/K4AFP, for allowing Mike to take the photos.

Some of Mike's below photos were shown on WJXT/TV-4 (Jacksonville) on the evening of March 1st; and on WCJB/TV-20 (Gainesville) on the evening of March 2nd!

[102-0286_IMG.JPG] [102-0287_IMG.JPG] [102-0289_IMG.JPG] [102-0290_IMG.JPG] [102-0291_IMG.JPG] [102-0292_IMG.JPG] [102-0293_IMG.JPG] [102-0294_IMG.JPG - This image was shown on the WJXT/TV-4 evening news 3/1/2003.] [102-0295_IMG.JPG] [102-0296_IMG.JPG] [102-0297_IMG.JPG] [102-0298_IMG.JPG] [102-0299_IMG.JPG] [102-0300_IMG.JPG] [103-0301_IMG.JPG - Guestimate for this hailstone is 1.25-inches.] [103-0302_IMG.JPG - Guestimate for this hailstone is 3-inches.] [103-0303_IMG.JPG] [103-0304_IMG.JPG] [103-0305_IMG.JPG] [103-0307_IMG.JPG] [103-0308_IMG.JPG - Guestimate for this hailstone is about 3-inches.] [103-0309_IMG.JPG - This image was shown on the WJXT/TV-4 evening news 3/1/2003.] [103-0310_IMG.JPG] [103-0311_IMG.JPG] [103-0312_IMG.JPG] [103-0313_IMG.JPG] [103-0314_IMG.JPG] [Florida `Snow.'  Only thing missing in this photo is a knight on the horse and a tall dragon.] [103-0316_IMG.JPG] [103-0317_IMG.JPG] [103-0318_IMG.JPG] [103-0319_IMG.JPG - This photo was shown on the WJXT/TV-4 evening news 3/1/2003.] [103-0320_IMG.JPG - This photo was shown on the WJXT/TV-4 evening news 3/1/2003.  Guestimate for this hailstone is 3-inches.] [103-0321_IMG.JPG] [103-0322_IMG.JPG] [103-0323_IMG.JPG] [103-0324_IMG.JPG - Guestimate for this hailstone is 3-inches.] [103-0325_IMG.JPG] [103-0326_IMG.JPG] [103-0327_IMG.JPG] [103-0328_IMG.JPG - Guestimate for this hailstone is 3-inches.] [103-0329_IMG.JPG - Guestimate for this hailstone is about 3.25- to 3.5-inches] [103-0330_IMG.JPG] [103-0331_IMG.JPG] [103-0332_IMG.JPG] [103-0333_IMG.JPG] [103-0334_IMG.JPG] [103-0335_IMG.JPG]

Related Reports:

Satellite Imagery:


  • KJAX Base Reflectivity - 3/01/2003
    (1100-1400 GMT)
    Base Reflectivity.
    Unfortunately, this is apparently the only piece of radar data left available from the NCDC data site. I had to download it as Level II because there IS no Level III data for this day. That includes even the surrounding area radars.
  • Storm Precipitation Totals - 03/01/2003 -
    Use to view the storm's track. (NEXRAD image from WeatherTap.)

(For a quick general description of the various radar products and each of their uses, see NCDC Radar Products.)

Related Maps:

  • County Map - Where are all the cities mentioned in the LSR located?

Related Articles:

Administrative 'Yet To Do':

  • Obtain satellite imagery
  • More radar data (if any can be found)
  • Related AFDs, ZFPs, HWOs for the day

Alachua County SKYWARN
Gainesville, Alachua Co., Fla.
E-mail: admin@alachuaskywarn.org
Created: March 01, 2003.
Last updated: April 21, 2012.

Web Page Copyright © 2003- by Alachua County SKYWARN.
All Rights Reserved.

All photos on this page are copyright © 2003-2012
by Michael Robinett/W4UAV. All Rights Reserved.
Used herein with permission.

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