Friday, June 24, 2011

Being prepared for a hailstorm by Brandi Rubio

Being prepared for a hailstorm
Brandi Rubio
Environmental Studies
PHS 100 A
Warner Pacific College
June 22, 2011

When you think of a natural disaster what comes to mind? Many people will answer this question with the more common disasters, such as; tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and hurricanes or tsunamis. What many Americans don’t realize is that one of the most dangerous natural disasters is actually Hailstorms. In the next few paragraphs, I will explain how hailstorms have affected us in the past and what we may learn from them in order to prepare ourselves if we should ever come into contact with a hailstorm.

A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard. It can lead to financial, environmental and human losses. The resulting loss typically depends on the vulnerability and preparedness of the affected population. One of these major disasters is a hailstorm. A hailstorm is precipitation in the form of balls of clear ice and compact snow. Scientists do not know how hailstorms form and grow. What we do know is that they are spherical and usually vary in diameter up to ½ inch. In many cases, hailstorms have been reported as having a diameter of 5 inches. Hailstorms are known to cause significant damage and are usually accompanied by a tornado, but this isn’t always the case. The massive storms can cause injury to crops, livestock, property and airplanes.
Because a hailstorm is a kind of thunderstorm mostly observed in the afternoon hours of summer, many people don’t see it coming. It starts with Ice crystals, cause by sudden updrafts and down drafts. When a strong air current passes through clouds containing super cooled droplets of water, the result is hail. For this to happen, the air temperature must fall below zero degrees centigrade. Tiny dust particles floating in the air catalyzes the transformation of water into ice. If water deposit continues for a longer period of time, small ice crystals develop into a hailstorm. When the icy deposit becomes 5mm in diameter, it is termed a hailstone.

In 1939 a major hailstorm struck India. The storm measured over a thirty square mile area in the southern part of the country. It killed cattle and sheep and damaged crops. Some of the hailstones were said to have weighed more than seven pounds. One of the most recent hailstorms reported in the United States happened in Norman, Oklahoma. It was said to be one of the most intense hailstorms ever witnessed. On May 17, 2010 Emergency Medical services responded to over 21 injuries to residents. The storm damaged two ambulance units, one fire truck and 34 police vehicles. Wind gusts were as high as 60 mph which left leaves, branches and other debris all over the town. The storm produced so much hail, it looked like a snowstorm had hit.
There isn’t much we can do in order to be prepared for a hailstorm; the one thing we can all do individually is get educated. In order to be prepared, you have to learn about what’s to come and know the damages likely to be caused. In order to prepare yourself for a major hailstorm, make sure that your cars and home are properly secured, animals in the house, and do not go outside. This only increased your chance of injury from flying debris and garbage. In a sense it’s the same preparedness you must have when facing a tornado, but with a hailstorm, you never know when it’s coming!


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