Hail, Yeah! Ice Falls in Phoenix During Lunchtime Storm

The hail, you say!

Tuesday's hailstorm had office workers crowding around windows and doors for a few minutes at the Phoenix New Times — and maybe where you are, too.

The ice bits fell just past noon, accompanied by a wicked-but-brief downpour.

It was nothing on the scale of the monster hailstorm from October 2010 that boosted business at local body shops.

That hail was an inch or more in diameter, which led to a lot of dented vehicle hoods and roofs.

Today's hail, in the parlance of the National Weather Service, was "smaller than pea size and pea size," local meteorologist James Sawtelle said.

Downtown Phoenix and Mesa were socked by a mini hailstorm on Tuesday.EXPAND
Downtown Phoenix and Mesa were socked by a mini hailstorm on Tuesday.
Ray Stern

Ice falling in the Sonoran Desert might seem like a rare occurrence, but it's actually very common.

"We get hail, when you include the small hail, over a dozen times a year," Sawtelle said. "It can happen any day that we get thunderstorms."

However, the hail fall is often very localized. Mesa and downtown Phoenix got it today, but other Valley locales just got rain.

Thundershowers are likely to continue for a few hours, then subside in the mid-afternoon as the storm system moves east, Sawtelle said.

The storm has battered parts of northern Arizona with snow.

Snow is rarer for Phoenix: it's happened only seven times in the historical record.

No wonder Phoenicians get excited when they see some white stuff on the ground, even if it's just common hail.


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