Atmosphere And Weather

Hail Storm the White Plague



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"Hail Storm the White Plague"
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I have never heard of hailstones being called "the white plague" and was absolutely horrified by what I have discovered whilst researching this topic. "Hailstones, the size of baseballs!" I just cannot comprehend how frightening this must have been,or be. You certainly do not want to be out walking, or out in a vehicle in these conditions! In Devon in the UK, yes we have occasional sleet, snow and hail, but nothing that I could reason being called, "the white plague." Weather here has changed over the years, we don't seem to have seasons anymore. I remember I used to be able to put winter clothes away and bring out summer's, however this is no longer the case. One day can be raining, hailing and cold and the next day really quite warm with sunshine.

The biggest hailstones I have seen are probably the size of garden peas! These knock against our window panes and may sting our faces upon looking up, especially if it's windy. Small children may cry whilst sitting in their pushchairs, as the hailstones bounce off their body, but as I say these have only been minute in comparison. They also can bounce off the ground, but certainly I have not seen the devastation they can actually cause.

Hail is produced by thunderclouds (cumulonimbi), strong currents of rising air (known as updrafts) carry the droplets of water high up so they freeze. It is common to have severe thunder storms where there are mountain ranges. Hailstones mainly fall in spring or summer months as this is when most thunderstorms occur. The winds are strong enough during these storms to carry the droplets of water upwards.

Oval hailstones the size of eggs killed 25 people and injured 200 people in China in 2002. It is unusual for hailstones to be oval because as they tumble down to the ground they normally become round. How devastating and such a loss. Mainland China is notorious for giant hailstones, alongside Texas to Montana in the USA, and from the foothills of the Rockies to the Mississippi River, is known as "Hail Alley"(www.bbc.co.uk)

The "white plague" obviously hits the economy hard. Crops get destroyed and animals killed or injured, during these horrendous and devastating conditions. It really must be terrifying. Homes are demolished by giant hailstones crashing through their roofs. Lives lost in the rubble, words fail me at the thought. Hailstones have been reported to have fallen at 90 miles per hour, "that's some speed!" I truly can understand why it is called "THE WHITE PLAGUE."

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