Hail fell in sheets last night in Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri. It accumulated like heavy snow on the ground in Omaha, where residents used front loaders to clear it out. In a St. Louis suburb, hail the size of grapefruits battered cars and homes.
Jim Kramper, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that 3.5-inch hail fell at the office in Weldon Spring. In the O'Fallon Park neighborhood, over 100 cars were damaged by hail at a car dealership. The hail broke windows and dented the cars, according to weather.com.
In Omaha, smaller hail fell by the foot. Police officers had to help motorists out of high hail drifts while others were waiting for a snow shovel to dig their cars out, the Omaha World-Herald reports. Hail accumulated up to two feet deep in parts of the Omaha area.
"That is actually hail being moved by a front end loader," Angela Brant describes in the video she took Thursday morning. "It was so bad last night. It was just absolutely, positively horrible."
Hail forms in thunderstorms with strong updrafts, or winds that rise through the storm. Even in the summer, precipitation begins as ice in the highest levels of the storm, and then falls to the ground and melts into rain. But in a storm with fast rising air, the ice particles can stay lofted in the sky for much longer — and the longer they stay up there, the larger the hail stone can grow as moisture accumulates and freezes on the particle.