A single unit of hail
, ranging in size from that of a pea to that of a grapefruit (i.e., from 5 mm to more than 15 cm in diameter).
Hailstones may be spheroidal, conical, or generally irregular in shape. The spheroidal stones often exhibit a layered internal structure, with layers of ice
containing many air bubbles alternating with layers of relatively clear ice
. These probably correspond to dry growth
and wet growth
and are called rime
, respectively. The conical stones fall with their bases downward without much tumbling and are often smaller and not as layered. Irregular hailstones often have a lobate structure and are not composed of smaller hailstones frozen together. Hailstones grow by accretion
of supercooled water
drops and sometimes also by accretion
of minor amounts of small ice particles. Large hail may contain liquid water and be spongy (an intimate mixture of ice and water) in some regions; it is usually solid ice with density
greater than 0.8 g cm-3
. Small hail may be indistinguishable from large graupel
) except for the convention that hail must be larger than 5 mm in diameter. The density
of small hail
can be much less than 0.8 g cm-3
if they are dry; if partly melted such hailstones become spongy. The largest recorded hailstone in the United States fell in a hailstorm
in Coffeyville, Kansas on 3 September 1970. It weighed 766 g, had a longest dimension about 15 cm, and had protrusions (lobes) several centimeters long on one side that formed as it grew.
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