It is not unusual to see hail in severe thunderstorms, but the amount and size of hail this year has been amazing.

It is not unusual to see hail in severe thunderstorms, but the amount and size of hail this year has been amazing.

Hail as big as ping-pong balls fell in Hocking and Athens counties a week ago. The hail came down so hard last weekend that it covered the ground 3 inches deep in Indiana.

What causes hail and how can you protect your property?

Inside thunderstorms are warm updrafts and cold downdrafts. When a water drop is lifted, it can be carried to temperatures below 32 degrees, freeze and then fall.

As it falls, it can thaw as it moves into warmer air and be picked back up again by another updraft. With each trip above and below freezing, it adds a layer of ice before ultimately falling to earth as hail.

The largest recorded hailstone in the United States was nearly as big as a volleyball (yes, I said volleyball) and fell July 23, 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota. The National Weather Service says it measured 8 inches in diameter and weighed almost 2 pounds.

Hail causes on average $1 billion in damage to crops and property annually. But a hailstorm that hit Kansas City on April 10, 2001, was the costliest ever in the U.S., causing almost $2 billion in damage.

My advice is to keep your car in a protected location when severe weather is forecast. A garage would be the best location, followed by a carport.

There is not much you can do to protect your home from hail, but I recommend inspecting your siding and roof after a storm so you don't miss out on the deadline to file a hail-related insurance claim.

I'll be monitoring Live Doppler 10 all spring. Watch my forecasts weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. And join the conversation online at Facebook.com/ChrisBradley10TV.

Weather where you live author Chris Bradley is chief meteorologist at WBNS-10TV.