Heavy Hail "Just a Precursor" to Stronger, Faster Storms Thursday
COLUMBIA - Strong, fast and dangerous thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes are expected in mid-Missouri Thursday.
KOMU 8 Weathercaster Kenton Gewecke said a "very fast-moving system" is forecast to arrive shortly after noon.
The system's speed could create conditions that "change rapidly," he said. (Watch the video at left to see Gewecke's tips for staying safe in severe storms.)
In addition to possible tornadoes, the storms could bring damaging winds, heavy rain, lightning and hail even larger than what fell in the area Wednesday.
Gewecke said people should think of Wednesday's storms as a "precursor" to what's in store.
Hail the size of quarters pounded parts of mid-Missouri Wednesday morning. KOMU 8 viewers posted dozens of photos and videos to the station's Facebook page.
Sydnee Re Kester used a coin to show the scale.
Michael Rogers scooped up a handful of hail, while Jason Binggeli used a cup.
Several viewers captured photos of the hail so thick it looked like snow. These pictures are from William Havens, Nicole Ann Bartlett-Johnson, Bradley Vickers, Robin Callaway Dianics and Robert Goser.
Photos from Liz Koenig and Anne Meyer show the hail in small drifts.
Hail size is determined by winds in the upper atmosphere called updrafts. The stronger they are, the bigger the hail, according to Gewecke.
He said all hail starts as falling snow, which freezes thicker as it is lifted by the updrafts. Each time an updraft sends the hail stones higher, another layer of ice forms.
Hail predicted for Thursday could be very large compared to what is shown in the photos above.
"This was light stuff compared to what we might see tomorrow," Gewecke said.