A hailstorm is a type of meteorological natural disaster during which hailstones, a solid precipitation in the form of balls or irregular lumps of ice, called fall to the ground. Hailstorms with powerful winds and large hailstones can be highly damaging to plant and animal life. Some of the effects of hailstorms are listed below.
The Dangers of a Hailstorm
Hazardous for Aircraft
A hailstorm is extremely hazardous for aircraft, which can be seriously damaged if caught in the middle of a severe hailstorm. Flights can also suffer damage upon landing on runways with accumulated hail. In August 2018, an Aeromexico flight crashed on takeoff during a hailstorm in northern Mexico. Fortunately, despite a fire in the plane, the passengers and crew managed to successfully escape.
Hazardous for Driving
Hail is not only harmful to aircraft in the sky, but also equally dangerous for automobiles on the road. Falling hailstones can shatter windows and windshields of vehicles. Visibility is also greatly reduced during a hailstorm and roads become slippery. Therefore, driving during a hailstorm can be extremely dangerous.
Hailstones Can Damage Property
Hailstorms are highly destructive in nature. Since hailstones fall from great heights at high speeds, they can easily penetrate through glass-roofed structures or skylights. Although metallic surfaces are less prone to damage by hailstones, dents are often created by the falling ice. The metallic bodies of automobiles can also get dented by hail. Thus, a severe hailstorm can lead to economic losses in terms of damage to buildings and vehicles.
Hailstorms Destroy Crops
Perhaps one of the most destructive effects of hailstorms can be observed on farms. A hailstorm with powerful winds can physically damage crops across large areas. The falling hailstones and strong winds bend and break plants and strip them of leaves and bark. Thus, farmers suffer heavy losses during such storms. Months of hard work by farmers can be destroyed almost instantly.
Hailstorms Can Also Kill People and Animals
It is possible for hailstones of significant size to kill an adult who is unable to find cover during a hailstorm. Massive hailstones are known to cause fatal head trauma or concussions. It is believed that about 200 to 600 nomads of a tribe died in Roopkund, Uttarakhand, India, during a severe hailstorm centuries ago. Their recently discovered skeletons with head injuries appear to support this historical account.