It was an end of October surprise with ice falling from the sky across western Massachusetts.
And it’s not all too common for this time of year.
Hail is typically considered a summer precipitation because it requires stronger thunderstorms to form. Since heat is a factor in the strength of a storm, they become less common in cooler seasons. So Tuesday’s event stunned many Pioneer Valley residents.
“Yes I saw hail, I was in my room and I could hear bumps hitting my A/C,” Maria Cruz of Springfield told 22News. “I look out the window and there was some pretty decent-sized hail…They looked like little marbles on the ground.”
Hail forms when updrafts in a thunderstorm are strong enough to carry water droplets up above the freezing level. Once the hailstone is heavy enough to outweigh the strength of the updraft, it hits the ground as a ball of ice.
Hail fell across various locations in Hampden and Hampshire counties when a strong area of thunderstorms passed through. But not everyone saw the hail.
“It just came out of nowhere and I got soaked,” Joseph Macik of Berkshire County recounted to 22News. “It’s just bipolar. One minute it’s snowing and next minute it’s raining.”
But the hail wasn’t that large — only around the size of a pea. Hail can only grow to a golf ball or even baseball-size in severe thunderstorms, which wasn’t the case Tuesday locally. However, the same line of storms ended up producing a tornado in Norton, Massachusetts and another in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Now hail is different than graupel which is considered a more autumn-type precipitation. It forms when supercooled water freezes onto falling snowflakes.
See more photos of the hail across the Pioneer Valley here.