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.
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.
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."