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Wolbrom as if after an attack of winter. Where did such heavy hail come from?

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Wolbrom experienced a massive hailstorm on Monday. The ice balls were several centimeters in diameter, and the streets looked as if they were covered in a thick layer of snow. Where did such a large hailstorm come from?

On Monday, a heavy hailstorm occurred in Wolbrom, Lesser Poland.. The ice balls were several centimeters in diameter and formed drifts almost a meter high. The landscape looked as if a snowstorm had passed there.

In Wolbrom, after a summer storm, the streets looked like they had been through a snowstormTVN24

Hailstorm in Zakopane

Hailstorm in ZakopaneStorm Observer Network Reporting System User, Karolina Szafraniec

How is hail formed?

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As Tomasz Wasilewski, presenter of tvnmeteo.pl, says, in order for hail to form, a strongly vertically raised cloud must form in the sky. It is created by vertical air currents that are directed from the heated ground to the atmosphere. When the temperature at the ground level reaches about 30 degrees Celsius, the clouds rise to considerable heights – even up to 15 kilometers. With increasing altitude, the air cools down. Water vapor at different heights occurs in different forms – either water (lower) or ice crystals (higher). The lower water droplets rise to the higher parts of the storm cloud, then freeze on the ice crystals, sticking to them. In this way, hailstones are created, i.e. balls of ice with a diameter of more than five millimeters. If the hailstones are already so heavy that they cannot stay in the cloud thanks to the rising currents, they fall to the ground.

In summer, hailstorms are not the most common

– Hail is always connected with the temperature in the cloud – emphasizes tvnmeteo.pl weather forecaster Arleta Unton-Pyziołek. As she explains, the “freezing zone”, i.e. the place where the temperature reaches 0 degrees Celsius, is low above the ground in spring. That is why hailstorms in Poland occur most often in May. The second month in which statistically this type of precipitation occurs most often is June, and then July takes third place in this ranking.

As the weather forecaster notes, “if hailstorms do occur in summer, they are usually very spectacular, much more spectacular than the spring hailstorm. In fact, in spring we have alternating hail and snow pellets with rain.”

He explains that when hail occurs at this time of year, “it means that there must be a strong push of cold air”. – There must be a strong clash of warm air with cold air – he adds.

Streets in Wolbrom after Monday's hailstormTVN24

Front and cold air

What happened in the atmosphere over Poland on Monday that caused such heavy and intense hail in Wolbrom?

– On Monday, Małopolska and Podkarpacie found themselves in the zone of a cold front, and a second front was looming over the south-east of the country, stretching from Finland, through Belarus, Ukraine, through the ends of Poland, the Alps, to France, which was associated with the pressure of polar air – explains Unton-Pyziołek.

As he says, “this large hail formed at the junction of the friction zone of the remaining polar air with the hot, tropical air that was pressing from the south”. – The warmer air mass is higher, and the colder air mass is lower, because it is a bit heavier and denser. When the heat came over the cold, hail fell – he explains.

– If only storms developed only in a hot air mass, only thanks to heating, there would be no chance for such hail – adds our forecaster.

How Hail Storms FormPAP/Maria Samczuk, Adam Ziemienowicz

Main image source: TVN24

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