Weather Thesaurus Entry: Hailstorm

WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character’s emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character’s soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).


Sight: A hailstorm is incredibly dangerous to anything exposed to it. High velocity balls of snow and ice rain down, varying in size from tiny BB pellets to baseball-sized objects that can dent metal or punch through glass or plastic. Typically hail is accompanied or preceded by rain and starts off small. As the eye of the storm…

Smell: Ozone

Taste: Ozone (a metallic tang on the tongue when breathing through the mouth), water

Touch: The stinging sensation of the speeding balls of ice will trigger the flight response. If caught out in a storm, people and animals will make haste to find any protection available to get away from the hard pellets. Hail, depending on size,can cut or bruise and is certainly painful. In extreme cases, hail can break bones, crush skulls and even kill. Arms are held over the head for protection, the neck…

Sound: The acoustics of a hailstorm depend on the location. If hail falls in a wooded area, the sound would mimic a hard rain as the ice pellets connect with leaves on the way down. If a metal roof is overhead (a warehouse, car hardtop, shed, etc) the pounding roar is deafening and people…


Mood: A hailstorm is a strong reminder of human fragility and the awesome force of nature. The strength and fury of such an event can create room for external reflection no matter what internal stress levels might be, or even bring about a spiritual moment. We cannot help but watch in fascination and awe…

Symbolism: The power of nature, Godly disfavor, unpredictability…



Don’t be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character’s emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.

Weather is a powerful tool, helping to foreshadow events and steer the emotional mood of any scene.

Need more detail regarding this weather element? Good news! This thesaurus has been integrated into our new online library at One Stop For Writers. There, not only has the information in each entry been enhanced and expanded, we’ve also added scenarios for adding conflict and tension. The entire thesaurus is also cross-referenced with our many other descriptive collections for easy searchability. Registration is free, so if you’re interested in seeing a sampling of the fully updated Weather and Earthly Phenomenon Thesaurus, head on over to One Stop.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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9 years ago

I like the fact that many a hailstorm occurs in balmy hot days. The juxtaposition is shocking to say the least as if the world had gone mad.

9 years ago


Karen Lange
9 years ago

Good stuff! (I know, I say that a lot when I visit.:) I think it’s interesting too, to watch how the weather is used in movies.

Have a great weekend,

Julie Musil
9 years ago

This so awesome! Thanks a lot

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

Thanks everyone. I admit, I love hailstorms. One of my favorite memories is standing in the garage watching my two boys run around the cul-d-sac screaming and splashing, trying to prove they were ‘men’ and could take it. LOL.

Kelly, Hail Yeah! You crack me up!

Stephanie, I’ll stop in asap! Thanks so much!

You guys are all awesome, and I know you’re busy, so I always appreciate the visits and comments. 🙂
Happy weekend!


Stephanie, PQW
9 years ago

You’ve been tagged. My blog will tell you why I did it. Here’s a hint…You blog is awesome!

Bethany Elizabeth
9 years ago

Hail is the weirdest thing. 🙂 I lived in a desert, too, so our weather was really weird. Great post!

Lisa Gail Green
9 years ago

There is nothing freakier than a warm, clear day when ice suddenly starts pelting down from above. *shudders* Good one!

Catherine A. Winn
9 years ago

We are in the middle of a drought and as badly as we want rain, I’ll take the drought over hail anytime!

Laura Pauling
9 years ago

Awesome picture. Hail is something pretty incredible and scary! Thanks for all your work!

Diane Fordham
9 years ago

Thanks for the post, very inspiring and thought provoking. Will definitely be useful in my writing. 🙂

9 years ago

HAIL, yeah!

Jeff King
9 years ago

once again you nailed it… nice job.

Carol Riggs
9 years ago

Argh, thanks for the reminder not to be TOO obvious with the weather being a window to the character’s soul and emotions. *makes note to self to check manuscript*

The Golden Eagle
9 years ago

Ozone! Now that would be a great taste to use.

9 years ago

The metallic tang on the back of the tongue put me right there! Oooo, loved this one! Your posts are always bookmark worthy. 🙂

Shannon O'Donnell
9 years ago

I’m loving these weather entries. I think weather is an area we too often forget to include. 🙂

9 years ago

Wonderful post. Weather speaks volumes but it has to be used with subtlety. Thanks for this!

Matthew MacNish
9 years ago

Ozone for the win! I have used that term several times when writing about weather.

Madeline Bartos
9 years ago

Awesome post and descriptions! I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where it started hailing. It’s definitely unique. 😉