The Jasper Hail Stick

| May 6, 2011 @ 11:13 am | 10 Replies

Let me just say up front that I cannot verify the authenticity of this image, but I can say it’s certainly plausible. This picture of an ice-covered “hailstone” (more like “hail stick”) came in earlier this week from Jasper. Given the amount of debris scattered all over Alabama and the South, you have to think this is certainly possible.

An explanation? Hailstones form due to the turbulent nature of thunderstorm updrafts and downdrafts. All hailstones form because of some kind of nucleus that gets covered in ice in the sub-freezing part of a thunderstorm. That nucleus gets tossed up and down between the coldest and warmest parts of the cumulonimbus cloud. When it falls into the warmer segment, it gets covered in water, then it blows back up to the top to freeze again. Every time this cycle happens, the hail stone grows.

Hail Formation Diagram from NC State University (

So, a stick could surely be a “nucleus” if it gets swept up into the highest parts of the thunderstorm. I’ve never seen anything quite like this…have you?

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  1. Mike Wilhelm says:

    Never heard of this, but it is plausible. Wow!

  2. James says:

    I had someone tell me that they found debris covered in ice after this same tornado passed by last Wed. I had never heard of that before. it is amazing what all takes place in a tornado.

  3. Stacy says:

    I took a picture of a limb that fell in my yard on Wednesday that was covered in ice. I will upload it as soon as I can.

  4. Very interesting. I bet the NWS would like to see the photo. I found a canceled check from 1996 in my yard and Lisa found a $20.00 bill.

  5. Rachel says:

    Wow!! That is very interesting!! Super cool!

  6. mallorys says:

    I sent this picture in!!!! My husband and I live right off of I-22 by the Walker County Lake. We saw the actual tornadic storm pass right by us as it was enroute to Cordova. We saw tree limbs and tops of trees fall from the sky, then it began to hail baseball sized hail if not larger. My husband found a few of these “hail sticks” in our yard. We were AMAZED! Thank you for sharing my picture!!!!!

  7. Schmalz says:

    Similarly know of folks in Bham who found pieces of house wrap covered in ice. Imagine from that storm many examples will emerge.

  8. Ronald says:

    That is very interesting! Guess most anything can happen when dealing with mother nature.

  9. Given the distance that some rather large pieces of debris were carried downstream of their original location by those storms, I can completely believe that this hailstick is real, or at least possible.

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