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Weather Academy: Hail Experiment

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 6:13 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Last week on the Weather Academy we learned all about how hail forms in a thunderstorm. Today we will be conducting an experiment that will give a hands-on application of hail formation.

What you’ll need:

  • Small glass
  • Large bowl that the glass can fit in
  • Crushed ice
  • Salt
  • Something to stir with
  • Tap water
  • Distilled water
  • A clock

Steps

  1. Add the tap water and the ice into your large bowl
  2. Grab the salt and pour a hefty amount into the bowl. You want enough where you can see salt building up at the bottom..
  3. Mix the salt, water, and ice.
  4. Grab the small glass and fill it less than half full with distilled water.
  5. Take the small glass and place it in the bowl with the salt water and ice mixture.
  6. While the glass is in the bowl, give the water in the bowl a stir. Every minute for the next 6-7 minutes, stir the ice water.
  7. Once the time is up, take the glass out of the bowl and add a small piece of ice to the glass.
  8. You have just made hail!

In this experiment, the bowl of salt water and ice is acting as our level of the thunderstorm that is almost freezing. In this area of the storm, there are supercooled water droplets, just like in our bowl, we have supercooled the water by adding salt (which lowers the freezing point of water) and ice.The stirring makes sure that the cold water stays evenly distributed in the bowl. By adding the small glass into the supercooled water, it also helps to cool down the water in the glass. Once the time has passed, the water is cold enough in the glass that as soon as it interacts with the solid piece of ice, the water freezes on contact. This relates back to how a hail stone grows because anytime the hail stone comes into contact with supercooled water, the water will freeze and add to the size of the hail stone. Some hailstones have grown to the size of grapefruits and larger.

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