Why Do We Use Terms Like Golf Balls and Softballs to Describe Hail? Curious Texas Investigates

When it’s pea-size, hail is more of a nuisance. Pea-size hail might ding your car, but overall it isn’t too damaging. But when hail gets to the size of a softball or a grapefruit, that’s when it’s really concerning.Those who have lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area long enough have probably seen various sizes of hail during at least one severe storm. Hail often comes suddenly, but it can leave a lasting impact — especially if it’s large enough.Growing up in Oklahoma, Dallas Morning News reader Lonnie Wege said he’s seen his fair share of hail. He’s an astronomer who also chases storms, and he has seen everything from BB gun pellet-size hail to hailstones as large as baseballs. Wege said he even saw baseball-size hail fall from the sky during a storm — while at a baseball game.Wege now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where he said his home has been hit hard a few times in the past decade. Tennis ball-size hail once even scattered the plexiglass of his home’s skylight, he said.“I always laugh when I hear meteorologists on TV use terms like pingpong ball-size or golf ball-size,” Wege said. “I find it comical.”Wege wanted to know: Why do we use the various terms to describe hail? Pea, quarter, pingpong ball, golf ball, tennis ball, baseball, softball, grapefruit? So he asked Curious Texas to find out more.Curious Texas is an ongoing project from The Dallas Morning News that invites you to join in our reporting process. The idea is simple: You have questions, and our journalists are trained to track down answers.  Continue reading...

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