Why scientists want you to measure hail stones

THE top of a beer can, a ruler, a cricket ball or a 20c piece is all it takes for everyday people to become citizen storm scientists.

University of Queensland storm researchers are recruiting the community to become novice storm chasers and help them track the size of hail during summer storms.

A PhD isn't need to take part, only a ruler or some other measurement reference like the top of a beer can, a cricket or tennis ball or a coin.

People living in Ipswich, Boonah and Esk are in the prime position to take part.

University of Queensland scientist Joshua Soderholm specialises in severe thunderstorms, particularly in the south east region he's working with a number of industry groups to improve thunderstorms warnings and better understand thunderstorm risks.

He said community support was needed to track size and location of hail.

How to report hail size and location.
How to report hail size and location. UQ Hail

"We're focusing on hail as a hazard of thunderstorms and we are using the data we collect from the public to calibrate new hail algorithms from the bureau's radars," he said.

"We're after the diameter so you can take a photo of it next to a ruler or you can use a reference object for size like a coin, a cricket ball or tennis ball and some people even put them on top of beer cans. We get a lot of those unsurprisingly during summer."

He said the most accurate way to collect hail was to let it fall on the grass, as collecting it in a bucket could make it melt.

"When we get the public involved we always push the measure of safety so when people to go out and measure the hail we always encourage to do so when it's safe after the storm has finished mainly because of lightning," he said.

"They just need to pick up the largest hail stone off the ground and measure that, that's all we're asking for."

Mr Soderholm said the largest hail report they had ever received was form Oakey on Boxing Day last year with stones up to 12.2cm in diameter.

Use a ruler or some other point of measurement to measure hail.
Use a ruler or some other point of measurement to measure hail. UQ Hail

He said the most common hail size was 10mm and the most common severe hail size, big enough to dent a car, was 3cm to 4cm.

Some people are better placed to be in the firing line of a hail storm, with topography a major contributor to storm activity.

"There is a track of sever hail storms from just north of the Boonah region up towards the western suburbs of Brisbane and around Ipswich," Mr Soderholm said.

"The other severe track is from Esk to the back of the Sunshine Coast. These are inland valleys. Storms don't like high mountains, particularly severe storms. They often struggle to cross mountains so if you want a storm to stay strong it needs to stick to a path of a valley.

"They also don't like to be too close to the coast so those areas don't get as impacted as much compared to Ipswich."

To get involved go to uqhail.com.

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