Understanding the Major Types of Hail

We’re taught about the four main types of precipitation in school: rain, sleet, snow, and hail. However, weather can be much more complex than that. Hail comes in different forms and severities. Sleet, graupel, and regular hail are all on the spectrum of frozen precipitation, but are very different, especially when it comes to the hail damage they can cause in Sioux Falls. Knowledge is the keye to being prepared for any kind of inclement weather.

Sleet

Smaller than hail, sleet consists of tiny balls of ice that tend to bounce when they make contact with the ground. Sleet can look like a rough, icy sheet when it forms a layer. Due to its size, it is unlikely that sleet will cause significant damage to your vehicle.

Graupel

Graupel forms when a snowflake is covered with a supercooled water droplet. Graupel is balls of ice that are softer than sleet, as well as larger. A ball of ice is considered graupel until it reaches 5mm in diameter. A large piece of graupel could potentially cause damage if it was going fast enough.

Hail

Hail is a ball of ice with a diameter of at least 5mm and is created when thunderstorm updrafts bring water vapor into an extremely cold part of the atmosphere causing it to freeze. Hail can range in size from less than an inch, to golf-ball-sized, to even as large as a baseball. The larger and faster a piece of hail is, the more damage it can cause.
Knowing one type of hail from another can help you better prepare for an incoming storm. If you’ve heard sleet is on its way, your car will likely be fine without protection, but if a hailstorm is approaching, your car could get seriously damaged. Make sure to take precautions to prevent hail damage to your Sioux Falls vehicle.