Softball-sized hail could strike the South this weekend

Softball-sized hail could strike the South this weekend

‘We could see baseball-sized hail, maybe even softball-sized,” warns National Weather Service meteorologist.

After an incredible four feet of ping-pong sized hail shut down highway 287 on the Texas panhandle this week, forecasters warned that even bigger chunks of hail could fall over the weekend.

Potter County Fire Department via NWS

‘We could see baseball-sized hail, maybe even softball-sized. That’s not out of the realm of possibility,’ warned Justyn Jackson, a meteorologist with the Amarillo, Tex., Weather Forecast Office.

“There’s a high risk of severe weather from Oklahoma City north to Salina, Kan.,”  said forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “The severe storms are expected to strike Saturday afternoon and evening.”

See entire article:

Thanks to Gem 3 in Tucson for this link

13 thoughts on “Softball-sized hail could strike the South this weekend”

    • There may be more parameters, but some requirements for large hail from the top of my head include:

      Strong updrafts occurring in a cumulonimbus (or thunderstorm) cloud with cloud tops greater than 25,000 feet in areas of strong convection or thunderstorm development occurring in a pre-frontal squall line in spring or airmass thunderstorm in summer.

      When the updraft is strong enough in a severe or super cell thunderstorm, hail can grow rapidly as it takes a rollercoaster ride up and down the thunderstorm. Best chances of large hail include very cold temps at 18,000 feet, or 500mb (-15C or less), strong instability, (lifted index of -4C or less), intense updrafts, wet bulb zero temps at about 12,000 feet and a strong jet max occurring above the areas of strong thunderstorms.

      • Thanks for the explanation!
        From what you said, the only direct relation I see with local colder weather is the colder layer at 18,000 feet and the “strong jet max”. I think you’re referring to the jet stream, right?
        I’d add that during lower solar cycles the stability of the jet stream and the temperature of the Stratosphere tend to get lower and there could be a connection there with our present solar minimum.

        • Yes – jet max is just a term used to describe the strongest part of the jet stream (highest wind speeds) mainly to the east or south of a cold upper level low pressure system. At the surface, conditions will be warm and moist ahead of the surface front with high dew points in the 60’s or even 70’s. Behind the surface front, much colder and drier, especially in the vicinity of the trough axis. (the maximum southward extend of the polar jet underneath the upper level trough or upper level low at 500mb)
          The stronger the upper level trough (or the lower the thickness values at 500mb) the greater the instability and potential for severe weather IF conditions are very warm and moist at the surface ahead of the deep trough (and surface low) in the strong SW flow.
          And with very low solar activity (or low sunspot count) in the long term, there is a tendency for colder or stronger troughs to extend further southward into lower latitudes, or a greater potential for blocking patterns – such as greater north to south swings in the polar jet stream due to greater amplification upstream. As the upper atmosphere cools further due to low solar activity, increased volcanic ash and greater cosmic radiation with a weakening magnetic field, a further cooling of the atmosphere seems likely over the long term as the polar and arctic jet streams migrate further south. This means, of course, more arctic air intrusions into lower latitudes (like we’re seeing in the Sahara Desert) and increased snowfall due to strengthening winter cyclogeneses.

  1. Speaking of hail, we had quite a bit of it last night in successive flurries. It went on and on, one hailstorm after another for several hours. The pieces were about the size of peas. Which doesn’t seem like much until you realize that I am in Southern California, about 100 miles from the Mexican border.

    • 2 nights ago we had unusually large hail here in the San Francisco area. Ours ranged from the size of marbles to about the size of a quarter.

  2. in Aus our 8pm news just reported 2 dead and an apartment building damaged in oklahoma. seems the warning sirens didnt go off?

  3. Just wait until the 100lb. hail stones come! All of this is just a precursor and warning of things ahead.

  4. Here is an interesting article from sott-net, from Aug. 2010, when weird weather worldwide were reported in connection with jet-stream anomalies. In Nov. 2010 another jet-stream anomaly caused intense cold weather in the UK also:
    “Normally the jet stream is a giant loop of high speed winds that whip round the upper atmosphere, writes science correspondent Tom Clarke.
    The jet stream isn’t involved in day to day weather – it’s too high up – but because it pushes the atmosphere around it’s very important in steering large scale weather patterns below. […]
    The stream has split in two … [the] southern arm of the Jet stream has looped down so far it has crossed over the Himalayas into north western Pakistan. Experts at the Met Office tell me this is very unusual.
    And the result is that the fast moving jets stream winds high up has helped suck the warm, wet, monsoon air even faster and higher into the atmosphere – and that has caused rains like no-one can remember.
    It has turbo charged the monsoon if you like. They’re not sure that’s ever happened before.
    (link to sott-net: )
    This happened 2 years ago, and we now know that clouds are forming closer to the ground, on the average, in a systematic way for, at least, the last ~ 10 years
    Therefore, it’s possible that the occurrence of both phenomena at the same time will increase the importance of the jet-stream on the weather worldwide, from now on.

  5. One can more easilly comprehend where these ice storms are coming from when one considers the fact that the warmth that we enjoy on the ground only extends upwards to an altitude of no more than a few thousand or often no more than a few hundred feet or less. There is a “temperature inversion” at that altitude. Everything above that boundry is in the minus fifties centigrade. That upper atmoshere is called the stratosphere and it is usually not only super cold, but also super dry too. Clouds form as the wet lower atmosphere rises up into that colder drier air above. So when warm humid air is forced up into that extremely cold upper atmosphere obviously all the humidity is suddenly flash frozen and thus comes crashing down as hail stones. Any aircraft flying into such storm clouds impact this wall of ice in the sky.

  6. It was not ping-pong sized hail! It was pea sized as you can tell in the picture. The person who took the picture is a good friend of mine. What you are lookin at is a stream bed where all the hail washed to. It is an impressive site for sure but not the end of the world. We are use to major weather changes in the Texas Panhandle, and, this being one that we haven’t seen in some time, but is not one that hasn’t ever happened. We have in the past called out the snow plows to clear roads of hail.

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