What a mess! I thought.
Darn hail –but what’s this?
I bent to look closer and yes; the blasted stone — was steaming.
How’s that possible?
I recalled how: in the turbulence at the leading edge of storms,
water churns up and down,
freezing each round,
layering more water on each lap until the weight is sufficient and the frozen water falls.
Ah; I recalled; some science class mentioned this.
If conditions are right,
warmer days, bright sunlight,
hail doesn’t melt into water but jumps, sublimating straight to steam.
Very cool, but my windshield is still destroyed.
– – = = * = = – –
Okay – I know this is a nerd article, but I still recall the first time I saw this phenomenon. I had just moved my family to Colorado Springs, Colorado to start a new job and our youngest son had just been born, so yes, life was wonderfully hectic and there on the street after one of the many hail storms that frequent the city were piles of hail stones – steaming in the sunlight. I don’t recall how I solved the mystery of my first encounter with sublimation, but when I did I vowed to someday use it in a story.
The more detailed explanation is that if we heat ice, it melts into liquid water. If we add more heat (more energy) the water evaporates into steam, but if you add lots of energy to ice quickly enough while suitable air pressure exists, you can watch as ice jumps straight to steam.
And yes, I do think this is pretty cool and I feel much better with this checked off of my to-do-someday list.