overcast clouds


Laguna Beach

Dennis’ Tidbits


May 12, 2020

Hail, no! It won’t happen here.

Dennis 5Here on Sunday evening there’s some healthy wave energy from the Southern Hemisphere hitting our beaches. It’s been building all day with some overhead sets at Brooks Street and a solid 4-6 ft at Lower Trestles, coming in at an ideal direction. We’ve been getting some pretty decent pulses from the South Pacific so far this spring, which is making up for a dismal winter. Let’s hope we stay on a roll here.

Well, we’re locked into the May Gray syndrome, but at least our lives aren’t ruined in the matter of a few seconds by an EF-4 tornado or hail that does five billion dollars of damage during this supercell thunderstorm season. May Gray and June Gloom don’t seem so bad at all, as it’s a walk in the park compared to a lot of places in our country.

Occasionally, we have a hailstorm here in Laguna, but it’s usually pea to occasional marble-size, with no damage to speak of. Hail is always associated with thunderstorms falling out of a cumulonimbus cloud. Updrafts out here don’t amount to much, traveling no more than 30 mph at the most, plus the tops of these thunder makers extend no more than around 25,000 feet above the earth. But east of the Rockies it’s a different story altogether. Just yesterday in parts of eastern Texas there were reports of baseball-size hail riding updrafts of 85 mph. 

Hail is born when a raindrop that is getting ready to fall to earth suddenly gets caught up in an updraft, which proceeds to drive that raindrop high into the cloud where temps are well below freezing, thus forming a little ice ball. It may then begin its journey back to earth unless it becomes the property of that updraft, which if strong enough will repeat the procedure. 

This cycle will continue if the updraft is strong enough and can happen many times. Finally, when the surrounding air can no longer support the weight of this stone, that hailstone will finally succumb to the earth’s gravity and fall to the ground. 

Here’s the rundown: if the updraft is around 25-30 mph, hail size will be roughly pea to marble-size. If the updraft is 35-40 mph, you get quarter to half dollar-size hailstones. 45-50 mph updrafts will produce ping pong ball-sized hail. Golf ball-size stones are the product of 60 mph updrafts. 70-80 mph updrafts produce stones the size of tennis balls. Baseball-size comes from 85-95 mph updrafts. 

When updrafts reach 100-110 mph, we’re talking softballs. Grapefruit-size comes from updrafts up to 120 mph. The largest hailstone ever recorded was eight inches in diameter, roughly the size of a volleyball and weighing over two pounds! The updraft in this monster supercell was estimated to be 150-160 mph and the cloud top extended all the way to 60,000 feet. 

This freak of a hailstone hit the ground on a farm in western Nebraska and dug a two-foot-wide, six-inch-deep crater. Thankfully there was no damage as the monster landed in an open field far from any structures or people! Personally, the biggest hail I’ve ever witnessed was baseball-size in Amarillo, Texas Air Force Base on April 1, 1967.

Imagine thousands of baseballs falling from above at 100 mph, the speed of the highest velocity fastballs by a Major League pitcher! Scary stuff.

See y’all on Friday, ALOHA!


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: [email protected] for questions about advertising


Email: [email protected] with news releases, letters, etc.


© 2021 Stu News Laguna - All Rights Reserved.