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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 11/ 6/2008

Fish 'n' Chips and a Boatload of Hail

By Steve Tracton

A thick buildup of hail -- yes, hail -- in Ottery St. Mary, England. Courtesy Margaret Bargmann.

I was intrigued by the remarkable and unusual storm across the Atlantic highlighted by Jason's recent post, "What the Hail? Weird Weather in England." Flooding rains and as much as a foot of hail fell in just a few hours in the vicinity of Exeter in southwest England. Jason quite justifiably described this BBC video of the storm as "amazing," while a local newspaper has another amazing video under the headline, "Freak storm leaves Devon town like a 'lunar landscape' under 2ft of hail."

What I find most fascinating and totally surprising -- something I'd never seen before -- is how much the accumulated hail looks like snow. So I contacted a friend, Ken Mylne, a renowned meteorologist who lives near Exeter for an expert account.

Keep reading for Ken's account of the England hail storm. For local weather, see our full forecast through the weekend.

Flooded tennis courts. Courtesy of Ken Mylne, Sidmouth, U.K.

Ken notes that the hail storm was amazingly localized, with his neighborhood receiving only rain while hail was accumulating three miles to the north. The difference can be seen by the flooded tennis courts nearby Ken compared to the areas with hail (you can cycle through selections at this site for more incredible photos). Total rainfall was over 4 inches in less than 4 hours, and hail accumulations reached a few inches to almost one foot at some spots.

Was it really hail? It was, according to Ken, even though it looks like snow in the pictures. He says the air mass was not quite cold enough for snow, but speculates that "the intensity of precipitation may have chilled the air enough that there was snow mixed in." Indeed, other first-hand reports, Ken notes, spoke of very heavy hail mixed with rain with some accounts talking of snow mixed in.

Ken ended with a comment about spending the morning after the storm helping to clean out a neighbor's house and organizing work parties to clean and repair the pictured tennis courts -- "exciting weather, but a horrible mess now."

By Steve Tracton  | November 6, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  International Weather, Tracton  
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That's one hail of a storm... chuckle chuckle

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | November 6, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

In a remarkable coincidence, a CNN affiliate in Oklahoma reports;

Thunderstorms pounded parts of Oklahoma with large hail. So much hail fell in Oklahoma City that it looks like snow is covering the ground.

See story and video at:

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | November 6, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I've heard people refer to sleet as hail before. Do the Brits call sleet hail? I've tried to explain the difference between hail from thunderstorms and sleet before. A lot of people think it is the same thing. Doesn't this look like sleet or graupel?

Posted by: MaltyCharacter | November 7, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

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