Precipitation of balls or pieces of ice with a diameter of 0.2–4 in. (5 mm–10 cm). Small hail (also called sleet, or ice pellets) has a diameter of less than 0.2 in. Hail can be extremely destructive to buildings and crops; if it is large enough, it may be dangerous to animals. Hailstones 6 in. (15 cm) in diameter have fallen during storms in the U.S. Midwest. Hailstorms are most common in the middle latitudes and usually last around 15 minutes. They ordinarily occur in middle to late afternoon and may accompany thunderstorms.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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