AskDefine | Define hail

Dictionary Definition



1 precipitation of ice pellets when there are strong rising air currents
2 enthusiastic greeting


1 praise vociferously; "The critics hailed the young pianist as a new Rubinstein" [syn: acclaim, herald]
2 be a native of; "She hails from Kalamazoo" [syn: come]
3 call for; "hail a cab"
4 greet enthusiastically or joyfully [syn: herald]
5 precipitate as small ice particles; "It hailed for an hour"

User Contributed Dictionary



Etymology 1

From Old English hæġl.


  1. Balls or pieces of ice falling as precipitation from a thunderstorm.
balls of ice


  1. (used only in the infinitive and the third-person singular with it) Said of the weather when hail is falling.
    They say it's going to hail tomorrow.
  2. To send or release hail
    The cloud would hail down furiously within a few minutes.
said when hail is falling

Etymology 2

From hail, a variant of hale ‘health, safety’.


  1. To greet.
    Hail Linzen
  2. To praise enthusiastically.
    He was hailed as a hero.
  3. To call out to loudly in order to gain the attention of.
    Hail a taxi
  4. be a native of
    She hails from Kalamazoo
to greet
  • Dutch: begroeten
  • Finnish: tervehtiä
  • French: saluer
  • German: grüßen
  • Icelandic: heilsa
  • Italian: salutare
  • Russian: приветствовать
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: поздравити
    Roman: pozdraviti
  • Spanish: saludar
  • Swedish: hell
to praise enthusiastically
to call out loudly in order to gain the attention of
  • Czech: přivolat
  • Finnish: kutsua
  • French: héler
  • Italian: chiamare
  • Russian: окликать
  • Spanish: llamar
to be a native of

Extensive Definition

Hail is a form of precipitation which consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice (hailstones). Hailstones on Earth usually consist mostly of water ice and measure between 5 and 150 millimeters in diameter, with the larger stones coming from severe thunderstorms. Hail is only produced by cumulonimbi (thunderclouds), usually at the front of the storm system, and is composed of transparent ice or alternating layers of transparent and translucent ice at least 1 mm thick. The METAR code for hail 5 mm or greater in diameter is GR, while smaller hailstones and graupel are coded GS. Unlike ice pellets, they are layered and can be irregular and clumped together.

Hail formation

Hail forms in storm clouds when supercooled water droplets freeze on contact with condensation nuclei, such as dust. The storm's updraft blows the hailstones to the upper part of the cloud. The updraft dissipates and the hailstones fall down, back into the updraft, and are lifted up again. The hailstone gains an ice layer and grows increasingly larger with each ascent. Once a hailstone becomes too heavy to be supported by the storm's updraft, it falls out of the cloud.
In large hailstones, latent heat released by further freezing may melt the outer shell of the hailstone. The hailstone then may undergo 'wet growth', where the liquid outer shell collects other smaller hailstones.

Ideal conditions for hail formation

Hail forms in strong thunderstorm clouds, particularly those with intense updrafts, high liquid water content, great vertical extent, large water droplets, and where a good portion of the cloud layer is below freezing . The growth rate is maximized at about , and becomes vanishingly small much below as supercooled water droplets become rare. For this reason, hail is most common in mid-latitudes during early summer where surface temperatures are warm enough to promote the instability associated with strong thunderstorms, but the upper atmosphere is still cool enough to support ice. Accordingly, hail is actually less common in the tropics despite a much higher frequency of thunderstorms than in the mid-latitudes because the atmosphere over the tropics tends to be warmer over a much greater depth. Also, entrainment of dry air into strong thunderstorms over continents can increase the frequency of hail by promoting evaporational cooling which lowers the freezing level of thunderstorm clouds giving hail a larger volume to grow in. Hail is also much more common along mountain ranges because mountains force horizontal winds upwards (known as orographic lifting), thereby intensifying the updrafts within thunderstorms and making hail more likely. One of the most notorious regions for large hail is the mountainous northern India and Bangladesh, which have reported more hail-related deaths than anywhere else in the world and also some of the largest hailstones ever measured. Mainland China is also notorious for killer hailstorms. In North America, hail is most common in the area where Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming meet, known as "Hail Alley." Cheyenne, Wyoming is North America's most hail-prone city with an average of nine to ten hailstorms per season. Hailstones, while most commonly only a few millimetres in diameter, can sometimes grow to and weigh more than . Pea or golf ball-sized hailstones are not uncommon in severe storms. Hail can do serious damage, notably to automobiles, skylights, glass-roofed structures, and most commonly, farmers' crops. Rarely, massive hailstones have been known to cause concussions or fatal head trauma. Sometimes, hail-producing clouds are identifiable by their green colouration.

Short term detection

In the United States, to issue proper warnings and forecasts, National Weather Service uses a network of NEXRAD doppler radars to detect hail. Hail size and probability can be determined from radar data by a computer by different algorithms. This, in combination with an analysis of the radar display is an accurate way of detecting hail. An analysis of the radar data would include viewing reflectivity data at multiple angles above ground level to check for hail development in the upper levels of the storm, and checking the Vertically Integrated Liquid (VIL). VIL and hail do have a relationship, although it varies with atmospheric conditions and therefore is not highly accurate. Radar data can also be complimented by a knowledge of current atmospheric conditions which can allow one to determine if the current atmosphere is conducive to hail development.

Size scale

globalize section Hailstone size is often reported as compared to known objects rather than by reporting the actual diameter. Below is a table of commonly used objects for this purpose. The UK organisation, TORRO, also scales for both hailstones and hailstorms.

Costly or deadly hailstorms


Further reading

  • A Short Course in CLOUD PHYSICS
  • Hailstorms
  • Hailstorms of the United States
  • Hailstorms and Hailstone Growth
  • Ice and Hailstorms
hail in Arabic: بَرَد
hail in Aymara: Chhijchhi
hail in Bosnian: Grad (padavina)
hail in Bulgarian: Градушка
hail in Catalan: Calamarsa
hail in Czech: Kroupy (meteorologie)
hail in Danish: Hagl (nedbør)
hail in German: Hagel
hail in Modern Greek (1453-): Χαλάζι
hail in Spanish: Granizo
hail in Esperanto: Hajlo
hail in Basque: Txingor
hail in Persian: تگرگ
hail in French: Grêle
hail in Galician: Sarabia
hail in Croatian: Tuča
hail in Inuktitut: ᓇᑕᖅᑯᕐᓇᐃᑦ/nataqqurnait
hail in Italian: Grandine
hail in Hebrew: ברד
hail in Kurdish: Zîpik
hail in Latin: Grando
hail in Malayalam: ആലിപ്പഴം
hail in Dutch: Hagel (neerslag)
hail in Japanese: 雹
hail in Norwegian: Hagl
hail in Norwegian Nynorsk: Hagl
hail in Occitan (post 1500): Granissa
hail in Polish: Grad
hail in Portuguese: Granizo
hail in Romanian: Grindină
hail in Russian: Град
hail in Scots: Hail
hail in Sicilian: Gragnola
hail in Simple English: Hail
hail in Slovak: Krúpa (ľadovec)
hail in Slovenian: Toča
hail in Serbian: Град (падавина)
hail in Finnish: Rae
hail in Swedish: Hagel
hail in Tagalog: Hail
hail in Telugu: వడగళ్ళు
hail in Thai: ลูกเห็บ
hail in Vietnamese: Mưa đá
hail in Tajik: Жола
hail in Turkish: Dolu
hail in Ukrainian: Град
hail in Samogitian: Kroša
hail in Chinese: 冰雹

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

a mass of, a world of, abide by, accede, accept, acclaim, accost, acknowledge, acquiesce, acquiesce in, address, agree, agree to, agree with, apostrophize, appeal to, applaud, approach, approve, army, assent, bark, barrage, bawl, beat the drum, bellow, bespeak, bevy, bid good day, bid good morning, bob, bombard, bombardment, bow, bow to, broadside, bunch, buttonhole, buy, call, call to, cannonade, caterwaul, cheer, cheer on, clap, clap the hands, cloud, clutter, compliment, comply, congratulate, consent, covey, cry, curtsy, dip, drumfire, embrace, encore, exchange colors, exchange greetings, felicitate, flag, flag down, flash, flight, flock, flocks, frost, fusillade, give a hand, give a signal, give the nod, glance, glorify, graupel, greet, greeting, hail and speak, hailstone, half-mast, halloo, hallow, hand-clasp, handshake, hear it for, hello, hive, hoist a banner, hold with, holler, hollo, honor, hoot, host, how-do-you-do, howl, hug, ice, ice over, ice up, in toto, invoke, jam, kick, kiss, kiss hands, large amount, laud, leer, legion, lift the hat, lots, make a sign, many, masses of, mob, muchness, multitude, nest, nod, nod assent, nod to, nudge, numbers, pack, pelt, plurality, poke, praise, pull the forelock, quantities, quite a few, raise a cry, receive, recommend, roar, root for, rout, ruck, salutation, salute, salvo, say hello, scores, scream, screech, shake, shake hands, shoal, shout, shower, shriek, sign, signal, signalize, sleet, smile, smile of recognition, snow, snow in, snow under, soft hail, sound an alarm, sound the trumpet, speak, speak fair, speak to, squall, squawk, squeal, storm, subscribe to, swarm, take aside, take kindly to, talk to, throng, tidy sum, torrent, touch, touch the hat, uncover, unfurl a flag, volley, vote for, wave, wave a flag, wave the hand, welcome, whoop, wink, worlds of, yammer, yap, yawl, yawp, yell, yelp, yes, yield assent, yowl
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