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Kentucky Color - Hail
The Damage from the Hail Storm of March 2, 2012 will still be under assessment for some days yet. Many have taken a few moments to also assess the attendant natural beauty of the phenomenon, which few of us have experienced in a life time. Billy Joe Fudge has taken the process many steps beyond, with his unique eye for spotting both the Small and the Significant Differences, as in this essay on shapes of haiil and memories of flight in a storm - when his pilot aimed the plane straight at earth - with a surprising result!
Click on headline for essay with hailstone album, with photo(s) by the writer and by others who sent photos documenting the relative size of the hailstones
By Billy Joe Fudge, Retired District ForesterKentucky Division of Forestry
What strikes me, no pun intended, about this double handful of hailstones is the many different forms. Some look like ice and some look like little tightly compressed snowballs. Some are round and some are not so round. Some look like solid ice balls and some look like a conglomeration of smaller ice balls.
It has often been said that one who knows no difference between sleet and hail has seen no hail.
The thing to remember is that hailstones are not large sleet. Sleet is rain drops which fall through a layer of below freezing air and solidify into ice pellets while hailstones are formed from moisture that has been carried by strong updrafts of warm air to, in some cases, above 7 miles in height where this moisture freezes into these mostly irregular stones. Once the stone becomes so heavy that the updraft can no longer support its weight, it falls. Often the stone will loose some of its weight on the way down and be carried back up, again and again, becoming larger and more irregular with each trip up and down.
These updrafts can be very strong. While flying fire patrol in a 172 Cessna a few years ago my pilot and I were caught in a cold front updraft over Casey County. The pilot flew the plane almost straight down, yet we were still gaining altitude for several minutes. A somewhat disconcerting experience to say the least. - BIlly Joe Fudge
This story was posted on 2012-03-03 03:47:46
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