The True Story Of How 'Gorilla Hail' Got Its Name

Any property damage fans in the house? We've got you covered: feast your eyes on BuzzFeed's reel of shattered glass, battered cars, dented doors, pummeled pools, shredded curtains, even a set of marauded Walmart aisles. And the culprit? Was it the Tennis Ball Bandit, with his excellent aim and super-jacked throwing arm? The Hulk, perhaps, or at least, a rampaging... gorilla?

Nope, the vandal was hail. Specifically, the big kind: "gorilla hail." Over the past couple of weeks, particularly April 13 and 29, Texas and Oklahoma have been pounded by hail variously described in terms of sporting equipment, fruit, or currency: as big as a baseball (per KBTX), a golf ball (per Twitter), a grapefruit (per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram), a quarter (per Twitter), and more. And of course, there were plenty of opportunities for people to take footage of their possessions being destroyed.

For those seeking a little meteorological education, hail isn't merely rain that froze on the way down, and somehow got bigger while also entering warmer temperatures closer to Earth's surface. Hail begins as ice in the atmosphere, as National Geographic says. As it falls, wind blows it back into the clouds, where it collects more moisture. This process repeats, the hail gets bigger, and when it gets too heavy, it falls to the ground. This means that only extremely strong winds can keep such big, grapefruit-sized hail up.

And according to Reed Timmer, the guy who named "gorilla hail," such phenomenon is becoming more common.

Storm chaser Reed Timmer made up the name on the spot

As Reed Timmer's Twitter feed demonstrates, the self-proclaimed "extreme meteorologist," storm chaser, "leaf peeper" (whatever that is), and Ph.D. in Meteorology is a super big fan of his car getting destroyed. He's also the man who gave "gorilla hail" its name, a term that didn't exist before April 13, 2021. By all accounts, it seems like he spontaneously made it up and tweeted it to the public, on the spot, while he was taking storm footage. Why gorillas? Because... they're big? We really don't know.

In an April 13 tweet complete with video of Timmer's windshield getting wrecked by gorilla hail while he drives, he declared, "DESTRUcTiVE GORILLA HAIL [sic] at the Llano Cowboy Church 7 miles west of Llano, Texas! Just deployed subsonic sensor. Hail to baseballs." In another tweet a mere nine minutes later he wrote, "Beautiful gorilla hail sunset with another supercell eclipsing the setting sun with hail fog looming..." And then his prophecy of doom: "It sure seems like gorilla hail is becoming more and more common."

The Department of Commerce's National Environmental Satellite and Data and Information Service (NESDIS) states that the April 13 storm was nothing more unusual than a thunderstorm, albeit a particularly strong one. In fact, it created a layer of hailstones three inches thick. If such storms are indeed becoming more common, it might be time to capitulate and cry as Timmer might cry, "All hail gorilla hail!"