Massive hail pounds Denver, disrupts baseball game; damages cars and buildings

The game between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies on Monday night was postponed because of rain and hail.

The Associated Press reports that the game was delayed for about 75 minutes before being called. Instead, it is played as part of a split doubleheader Tuesday, with the first game at 12:10 p.m. MT and the second at 6:40 p.m.

There was so much hail in the afternoon that it had to be swept off the tarp covering the field. The rain persisted as the crowd gathered under the overhang trying to wait out the delay.

Luxury car damage reported in Denver

Car dealerships across the Denver area were also hit hard by the hail.

According to KDVR, the Stevinson Lexus dealership reports that a lot of their inventory is damaged.

The hardest hit dealership was may be the “prestige imports” dealership located in Lakewood. The dealership estimates 250 to 300 cars were damaged, with some of the cars valued at about 200-thousand dollars before the hailstorm.

The hail was so large, most of the cars will need more than just new paint jobs.

Extensive hail damage to cars, buildings

The powerful hailstorm also shattered building windows and numerous cars’ windshields across the Denver metro area on Monday afternoon.

The storm also forced the evacuation and closure of the Colorado Mills mall, according to KDVR.

Local school buildings were also impacted by the hailstorm.

KDVR reports that all schools in the Adams County School District 14 and Beach Court Elementary School in Denver were closed Tuesday because of hail damage.

Schools in Adams County suffered flood and hail damage from the storm, forcing all 13 to close. All activities, including sporting events, were also called off.

Beach Court Elementary is the only school in Denver Public Schools to close Tuesday. Several windows broke at the school near West 50th Avenue and Zuni Street because of the storm.

Maintenance crews boarded up windows and were working to make repairs. Classes are expected to resume Wednesday.

How the hail did this happen?

Colorado is notorious for experiencing large hail, especially east of the Rocky Mountains.

For Monday’s hailstorm, a surface low located southwest of Colorado pumped very warm and humid air from the Pacific Ocean into the Rockies. As the warm, humid air was forced higher into the atmosphere by the mountains, it cooled, condensed, and formed thunderstorm clouds over eastern Colorado, as depicted in the GOES-16 visible satellite imagery loop below.

As the thunderstorms grew taller, water droplets continued to rise high into the storm, eventually reaching the freezing point within the clouds. In Colorado, the freezing point is much lower to the ground, because the area is already at a much higher elevation due to the mountainous terrain.

In the case of Monday’s hail storm, the freezing level was only 7,014 feet above the ground — a mere 1.32 miles above the ground. This means that any hail that forms would likely be able to stay unmelted for much of the journey to the ground.

But in addition to a low freezing level, the updrafts — or upward-moving portions of the storms — were incredibly strong, and they were able to keep the hailstones lofted higher for a longer amount of time.

The result: Larger hailstones (some the size of baseballs, or nearly 3 inches in diameter) that finally fell to the ground. The large size and substantial amount shows up clearly in the radar imagery below.