Hailstorms In Singapore

Powerful storms and hailstones assailed northern parts of Singapore like Ang Mo Kio, Yishun and Seletar on Wednesday (30 Jan).

In lieu of all the recent flooding incidents – both MRT and non-MRT related – we’ve been experiencing, we decided to answer a bunch of hail-related questions that have surely crossed your minds.

Taking for example:

  • Can hail kill me?
  • Will hailstones pierce through my umbrella?
  • How can a tree that looks so strong still be uprooted?

We don’t have a magic crystal ball here at MustShareNews. But you’ll be pleased to know that we do have some answers to your questions.

Like they always say in school, there are no stupid questions. This is our safe zone.

Here’re the answers to 8 most frequently asked questions about hail and storms in Singapore.

1. What exactly is a hailstone?

A hailstone is solid precipitation – usually a ball of irregular lumps of ice – according to National Geographic.

This is how it looks like.


They’re not to be confused with ice pellets, which only fall in cold weather.

2. How come hail can happen in Singapore too?

Contrary to popular belief, hail can occur even in places with tropical climates.


Although the likelihood of hailstone formation peaks when the air is near a temperature of −13 °C, as long as surging updrafts are present within thunderstorm clouds, hail can form.

According to a senior weather specialist, a rapid upward surge of air induces temperature at the top of the clouds to drop below freezing point, allowing raindrops to solidify.

Close proximity of the clouds to the earth’s surface may then leave the hailstones with little time to melt.

And tada, hail hits home!

3. Why don’t hailstones melt before they reach us?

True hail is strictly a summer phenomenon, according to a winter enthusiast on Quora.


The raindrops encounter strong updrafts due to the hot summer air in the cloud, it is tossed back up to the top of the cloud where it freezes.

After cycling through this process repeatedly, the layers of ice build upon one another and rain down as hailstones.

The high speed at which the stone falls creates a cooling effect on the surrounding air that enables it to reach the ground without melting, according to a qualified meteorologist.

This could probably explain why hail takes a while to melt in your hand too.

4. Can hail kill me?

Giant hailstones have killed people before, but instances of ‘death by hail’ are rare.

You may get injured – your car, roof or window may be damaged – but death rarely occurs.

Although your worries about being impaled aren’t unfounded, since hailstones with diameters of 8cm typically reach the earth with an average speed of 176.4km/h.

That is almost half the speed of the fastest F1 race car to date.

So don’t just stand there mouth agape, taking videos of the hailstorm when one hits an estate near you.

Quickly find a durable shelter to take cover.


5. Can my umbrella protect me from hail?

This really depends on how massive the stones are and how durable your umbrella is.

Those flimsy, pocket brollies likely wouldn’t stand as an adequate shield for long.

Whereas the regular ones built on a more solid foundation, may be able to endure heavy hail, such as in this video.

While the umbrella in this video managed to adequately protect its user, it’s probably wise not to rest your laurels on this.

6. What do hailstones taste like?

The only person whom we know who has tasted locally made hail, is our beloved Drop Like Grapes Lady.

In her iconic interview regarding Jun 2013’s hailstorm, she described the taste to be similar to ice.

I mean, what were you expecting hailstones to taste like?


7. How many times has hail visited Singapore?

In September 2008, hail visited Singapore for the first time. Hail – The Sequel was released 5 years later in June 2013.

Prior to this, The HailStorm: Part 3 struck us in October 2014. This marks the fourth time Singapore has experienced a hailstorm.


8. How can a hailstorm uproot a tree?

Many Singaporeans pondered about the mystery behind the uprooted tree near Yishun Secondary School, after the recent hailstorm.

So big, how can topple?

A probable explanation for this, is that regular trees can plant their feet firmly in the ground.

However, a tree with root issues would make it more prone to toppling in the face of strong winds and thunderstorms.

Here are some reasons for poor anchoring of roots, applicable to Singapore:

  • Blooming of fungi which causes root rot in high soil moisture environments
  • Easily damaged roots by construction in the vicinity
  • Poor planting techniques which results in shallow roots

Of course, in the face of severe hailstorms, even the healthiest trees are at risk of falling in turbulent weather.

Seek and you shall learn

Fortunately, you didn’t have to manually Google the answers to all these questions.

We hope we’ve provided you with enough answers to satiate your curiosity till the next time hail visit Singapore.

So go out there and impress everyone with your newly gleaned knowledge about hail.

Because now you know exactly what to do the next time hail comes a-knocking — save a piece for tasting purposes of course.


Featured image from YouTube and Wunderground