Explained: How did Al Ain see near-50°C temperatures and hailstorm in span of 3 hours?

Did you know hail is actually a far more common phenomena during peak summer than winter?


Karen Ann Monsy

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Published: Sat 5 Aug 2023, 10:20 AM

Last updated: Sat 5 Aug 2023, 10:13 PM

On Friday afternoon, the city of Al Ain recorded a maximum temperature of 48.6°C at 3pm. Less than three hours later, it was witnessing rainfall (so heavy that it uprooted trees) but also hail. Solid pellets of ice that pelted car windscreens as motorists navigated flooded roads with the help of local authorities.

Perhaps it's the 'icy' factor of hail that makes one associate it with winter, but hailstorms are actually a far more common phenomena during heatwaves and peak summer. That's because the specific atmospheric conditions required for hail formation are more typically associated with warm weather. Here's how it works:

Summertime is characterised by higher surface temperatures. These warm surfaces heat the air above them, creating unstable atmospheric conditions that promote the development of thunderstorms with strong updrafts.

The updrafts carry water droplets and ice particles upward into the colder regions of the atmosphere, where temperatures are low enough for supercooled water droplets to solidify or freeze into ice. As the ice pellets grow heavy, they fall quickly to the Earth as hailstones.

The UAE has witnessed hailstorms throughout this year, with snow-like hail covering a large stretch of Abu Dhabi desert in a sheet of white in January this year. In March too, videos of residents playing with hail in Sharjah and Fujairah did the rounds on social media, while Dr Ahmed Habib from the UAE's met office spoke to Khaleej Times in June this year about why the country was witnessing hail and thunderstorms with the onset of summer.


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