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Climate Change Is Leading to Bigger Hailstones

It was the height of summer in the UK and then the sky darkened. On the evening of July 21, 2021, hailstones the size of golf balls fell from the sky, smashing windows and battering cars.

While the hailstorm was unusual in its severity, it was mild compared to a hailstorm that struck Calgary in Canada in June 2020. Hailstones the size of tennis balls caused damage to at least 70,000 homes and vehicles, destroyed crops and left the area facing a $940 million repair bill.

And climate change is altering the pattern of hailstorms. In the last three years in Texas, Colorado, and Alabama, the records for largest hailstone have been broken, reaching sizes of up to 6.2 inches in diameter. Hail damage in the US now averages more than $10 billion a year.

Hail forms as droplets of water are carried upward into a thunderstorm. Updraughts carry them into parts of the atmosphere where the air is cold enough to freeze the droplets. Moisture from the air accumulates on the outside of the drops of ice as it moves through the air, causing the hailstone to grow in onion-like layers.

Hailstones of less than 1 inch diameter typically fall at 25-49 mph. But downbursts can feature vertical windspeeds of 156-179 mph with correspondingly destructive hail. The heaviest hailstone ever recorded fell in Bangladesh in 1986, weighed 2.25 lbs. The hailstorm killed as many as 92 people and injured 400.

But just how big can a hailstone get? Experts now estimate the largest possible hailstone at 10.6 inches across or "bowling ball sized.” Meteorologist Matthew Kumjian of Pennsylvania State University said, “Strong 'supercell' thunderstorms produce the world's largest hailstones. So, the strongest of these storms today is probably capable of producing a supergiant stone.” It's clear that the really big stuff is likely to still keep hurling down at us. All we can do is prepare, and find a decent shelter.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Throughout Scripture God has used hailstones as a form of judgment upon his enemies. This will be particularly true in the end times when hailstones weighing 100 pounds each will bring devastating judgment to the earth. “And men cursed God for the plague of hail, because it was so horrendous” (Rev. 16:21).

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