Here in Denver, we get some pretty fierce winter weather. Which keeps our hail shop busy doing repairs on cars that get in auto wrecks due to slippery conditions. But, typically we see less hail damage because it does not hail during the winter. Hail is actually a warm weather phenomemnon. The tiny balls of frozen ice we get from time to time across the front range is called hail. It is one of four cold weather forms of percipitation: snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain. The difference between hail and sleet comes down to a few details that make all the difference
How Sleet Is Different Than Hail?
Sleet is made up of ice pellets that bounce off objects. Even though this may sound just like hail–it is not.
How Sleet Forms
Sleet forms because of a “warm-air sandwich” in the atmosphere above us. It technically begins as snow in the cold layer at the top of the systems but then melts to rain as it falls through the warm layer. It then changes yet again as it falls out of the warm pocket of air and refreezes into sleet. When this happens, the warm air layer is rather thin and there is usually a thicker than “normal” wedge of cold air underneath which refreezes the partially melted snow into ice pellets.
How Hail Forms
Hail, as we mentioned is a warm weather pattern occurance. In spring, summer and early fall it forms in coordination with thunderstorms. What happens when hail forms is, soft, snow-like particles form inside the subfreezing air at the top of a thunderstorm. Becuase even in summer the top layer of a thunderstorm is below freezing. The hailstones begin to grow bigger in the clouds when ice crystals freeze onto them. The winds from the storm keep them suspended in the clouds until the hailstones grow too heavy. At that point, gravity takes over and causes the hailstones to come barrelling down to Earth–to damage our roofs and cars.
As you can see, hail and sleet are similar but form in very different ways and are hazardous to humans. No matter where the damage on your Denver car comes from–be sure to contact Untied Hail Pros for repairs. We are the area’s PDR specialist and will fix your vehicle hassle-free and work with your insurance company so you pay nothing out of pocket.