Hail in summer? What a difference a day makes

Hail the size of golf balls reportedly fell in Brighton today. Photo: PA

Last week's heatwave has now given way, but a low pressure system over the Continent has generated intense thunderstorms and hail through parts of south-east England this morning.

The combination of heat and humidity in the last few days, coupled with unstable air from the Continent fuelled the downpours.

The torrential, thundery rain developed around areas of the south-east through the early hours and drifted down across East Anglia, Essex, the Home Counties, Greater London and into Kent and Sussex.

What looks like snow is left on the ground in Hove after a hailstorm. Credit: PA

In some places 1-2 inches of rain fell in a very short space of time leading to surface flooding.

A motorcyclist struggles through flood water in Worthing. Credit: PA

But rather than a winter phenomenon, hail is surprisingly common during the most intense summer thunderstorms.

The yellow part of this radar image shows the most severe storms in the south today. Credit: Home & Dry app, MetDesk

During thunderstorms, towering cumulus clouds zip miles up into the atmosphere.

.At the same time moisture, or water droplets, are forced to rise up and down within the cloud by strong updrafts and downdrafts. This water freezes at altitude and hail is formed.

Eventually the hail becomes too heavy to remain aloft within the cloud, way up high in the atmosphere, and falls to the ground.

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