Severe weather: 7 things to know when hail hits

Posted at 3:51 PM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-30 01:33:34-04

DENVER -- When hail hits, destruction oft follows. Severe weather frequently brings hail to the Denver area, and when it reaches a certain size, it can spell damage and even death. 

On Thursday night, severe hail fell in the Colorado Springs area, damaging hundreds of buildings and cars. Severe weather will again buffet parts of Colorado on Friday. 

Friday's severe weather could bring damaging hail over 2 inches with wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour throughout central and northeastern Colorado. 

To stay prepared, Denver7's First Alert Weather team helped put together a list of the top seven things to know when facing hail. 

1. Watch the forecast to know what hail will fall and when.

Meteorologists will help pin down where the hail will fall and point to where it will be most severe. They will also use terminology like normal hail and severe or damaging hail. 

2. Know what type of hail is 'normal hail.'

Normal hail is anything less than one inch or quarter-size and typically, normal hail will not injure humans or animals. It also isn't heavy enough to damage buildings or vehicles. 

3. Know the definition of 'severe or damaging hail.' 

Damaging hail is anything larger than the size of a quarter. When larger than a quarter, hail can injure humans, animals and at certain sizes, it can cause catastrophic damage to vehicles and buildings. 

4. Know when hail will damage your vehicle.

When driving, your car is susceptible to hail damage when the hail is larger than a quarter. The weight of the hail, coupled with the speed of a car can easily break a windshield. 

Ping pong ball size hail -- or larger than an inch in diameter -- can damage a parked car. 

5. Prepare in an abundance of caution for large, damaging hail. 

If possible, avoid the area in which hail will fall with the help of the forecast. If not, try to store your vehicle under a carport or in a garage. 

When you have no shelter for your car, place a cardboard box on your windows and windshield. When winds are at normal speeds and hail is smaller than a ping pong ball, card board boxes can prevent windshields from cracking. 

6. Take caution while driving not to put others in danger.

When driving into a hailstorm you didn't realize would happen, don't park under an overpass. Parking under an overpass is severely dangerous due to a phenomenon known as hail fog, which arises when the cold hail hits hot ground. Hail fog can be worsened by exhaust from cars. 

When a number of cars park under an overpass, it can be nearly impossible for other drivers to see what may be ahead. This has caused a number of tragic accidents. 

7. Utilize apps like the Denver 7 app to track radar and wind speeds.

When looking at radar if hail is expected, the most serious hail can be detected from the center of a storm when the color is a dark red, magenta or purple color. 

Apps will also help detect wind speeds, which can make hail even more dangerous. When harsh wind and hail is combined, damage can be worsened. 


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