When ice falls from the sky, take cover: Hail can be deadly

Posted at
and last updated

DENVER — A common sight after hailstorms is an equal storm of photos showing damage to cars, homes and windows. Less common are stories or photos of the serious injuries that hail can cause. 

With the start of severe weather season in May, Colorado residents who reside along the Front Range know severe thunderstorms will bring damaging hail.

Damaging hail is anything larger than a quarter in size, and it can be produced by any severe storm. But the sizes can range all the way up to the diameter of a fully grown grapefruit. 

Although the last known fatality to hail was Juan Oseguera, a Texas 19-year-old, the meteorological phenomenon claims lives across the world each year. 

When to take cover

Ideally, when a thunderstorm approaches, most people run for cover to be indoors, as lightning strikes can also be fatal. Any storm that produces severe thunder and lightning has the potential to produce hail. 

If you're still outside when hail falls, seek immediate shelter. 

Those who are in cars should pull up next to a building, under a gas station's overhang or pull into a garage and attempt to wait out the storm. When waiting out the storm, consider wrapping up in a blanket to shield from a potential shattered windshield.

Hail over a quarter in diameter — depending on wind speeds — can kill humans, pets or livestock if it strikes in the correct location. 

What to look for

Stay up to date with your chosen local news source, or download the StormShield app, which will inform you when a severe storm is approaching.

Utilizing radar, onlookers can spot storms that can produce hail by searching for a severe storm with a "pink" center, showing very heavy precipitation. 

More resources

HAIL: Learn more about what to do when hail hits here.

LIGHTNING: Learn more about the dangers surrounding lightning here.