You may already be aware of the linkage between hail and thunderstorms, but does hail also mean that a tornado is coming? This is the question we will be discussing in detail in this article. Keep reading below to find out!

Due to their similar climatology, a tornado may occur after a hailstorm, but it’s not always the case. Nevertheless, if you find yourself stuck in a hail, it’s important to take the necessary precautions for your safety.

Before we discuss this further, let’s understand what constitutes hail.

What is Hail?

Hailstones are a frozen type of rainwater that forms when thunderstorm updrafts push rain beyond the freezing threshold in the sky. Hailstones drop to the ground when they weigh too much to be carried by the updraft.

Although hail is produced by most thunderstorms, it does not necessarily reach the ground in that shape. The smallest hailstones melt in the hottest regions of the atmosphere, which are located close to the ground. The stone must develop big enough in the thunderstorm before actually dropping through the heated lower atmosphere for hail to be big enough to get to the surface. 

The same factors that contribute to the development of tornadic storms—low-level precipitation, lift, atmospheric instability, and wind shear—typically need to be present for hail to grow big enough to reach the surface.

For more information on hails, watch this video below:

What is hail? How is hail formed, and why does it happen? | Weather Wise

Does Hail Mean a Tornado is Coming?

Possibly, but not necessarily. Since huge hail frequently forms near where tornadoes are most likely to occur inside a thunderstorm, you should presume a tornado may be nearby and find suitable cover.

Signs that a Tornado May Be Forming

There are a number of atmospheric indicators that signal the impending arrival of a tornado:

  • A dim, frequently eerie green sky
  • Wall clouds or an impending debris cloud
  • Large hail frequently occurs with no rain
  • The wind may quiet down, and the air may become incredibly still just before a tornado strikes
  • There may be a deafening roar, like a freight train
  • An incoming debris cloud, even though no funnel is evident

Hail vs. Tornado Climatology

Similar to tornadoes, hail may be found all over the world. But it mostly happens in the US, where the geology and environment are conducive to heavy thunderstorms. When it comes to the locations where it occurs most frequently, hail typically follows a similar trajectory to tornadoes.

Hail is most commonly observed in January around the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in the valleys of the Red and Mississippi rivers. Yet, these storms often don’t have powerful enough updrafts to produce more than one inch in diameter hail. 

Hail is more likely when winter transitions into spring. The South Central United States experiences the highest odds since severe thunderstorms thrive in this region’s favorable dryline climate. 

The greatest hail prospects move north into the High Plains when the dryline in the South Central United States diminishes as spring gives way to summer. The likelihood of hail will significantly decrease by the end of September across the nation, and it will continue to decline into the winter.

Although hail may occur practically anywhere in the United States east of the Rockies, the Great Plains often see the biggest and most frequent hailstorms. The majority of the eastern side of the country is lower in altitude than the Great Plains. 

Because of the greater altitude, where hail can form during less powerful thunderstorms than in other areas of the nation, the freezing level in the sky is closer to the ground. 

Hailstones spend longer in the updraft during more intense thunderstorms when temperatures are higher. A hailstone can be covered in more supercooled water or water vapor, or it can collide with other hailstones to undergo wet development if it spends longer than the freezing point. 

As a result, hailstones can grow larger than they would in Midwest and Northeast regions with lower elevations.

The Best Course of Action in a Hailstorm

If you’re stuck in a hailstorm, you should know what to do to stay safe. Some of the general guidelines will be discussed in this section.

If You Are Inside a Building

Enter a space inside that doesn’t have any windows. Wind-blown hail can hurt people by breaking windows. Stay indoors even after hail has stopped falling since there is still a chance of lightning and high winds during a thunderstorm. Your security is crucial!

If You Are Driving 

Veer off the road, into a neighboring parking lot, or off to the side. To alert other drivers that you have parked, make sure to activate your emergency flashers. Driving during hail makes it more likely to harm your car. Vehicle windows and windscreens are readily damaged by hail. 

To shield your head from flying glass, turn your body and head towards the car’s center. In case you are struck by glass, cover yourself with blankets and soft things. Move away from beneath the glass if your car has a sunroof or moonroof since these roofs are particularly prone to shattering from hail. 

If You Are Outside

Quickly enter a building or vehicle nearby! It is strongly advised to seek out a nearby structure during a hailstorm due to the dangers that might arise if you’re in a car. Make every effort to safeguard your head if there are no surrounding automobiles or buildings. Fatal hail injuries are those when the hail strikes the victim in the head. 

To protect your head from falling hail, do everything that you can. You can get protection by slipping off your shoes and putting them over your head! Your body may suffer severe harm from even a little hail!

 Standing behind a tree for cover may seem like a smart idea, but doing so simply raises your chance of getting hurt. Standing beneath a tree increases your risk of electrocution since trees are frequently hit by lightning.

Hail is by far the most devastating kind of precipitation. Install an NOAA All Hazards radio in your house or place of business to do your part to be weather-savvy. You may protect yourself against the potentially hazardous hail threat by keeping up with local thunderstorm predictions from the National Weather Service and thunderstorm outlooks from the Storm Prediction Center.


So, does hail mean a tornado is coming? Hail storm does not always indicate an incoming tornado, but you must know what to do to be prepared in any case. In this article, we discussed the precautions that are necessary if you find yourself stuck in a hailstorm.