Friday, July 30, 2010

Its Official: New Hailstone Record

Imagine this mammoth hailstone falling in Cleveland?  Here is the official story.  Credit:  The Weather Channel and the Associated Press

A hailstone found at Vivian, SD Friday night has now been determined to be the record largest U.S. hailstone by weight and diameter.  This 8-inch diameter stone, pictured above, weighed in at an incredible 1.9375 pounds.

The old record heaviest U.S. hailstone was a 1.67-pound monster in Coffeyville, KS on Sep. 3, 1970.  The old official largest diameter hailstone, measuring 7 inches in diameter, was recovered in Aurora, NE on June 22, 2003.

The Aurora, NE hailstone still holds the U.S. record for circumference, however, with a circumference of 18.75 inches.  The Vivian, SD hailstone fell a quarter-inch short (18.5") of that standard.

Leslie Scott, who found the record hailstone, said it lost about 3 inches because he was without electricity for several hours after the storm. NWS meteorologists told him to put it in a sealed plastic bag and stop opening the freezer door to show it to people.

"If I knew it might be a record, I would have looked for a bigger one, " he said. "There was lots of bigger ones than the one I got. My mother seen one as big as a football, she claims."

Hail from the storm led to at least five reports of injuries on Interstate 90, when hailstones crashed through vehicle windshields.  All 55 homes in the town of Vivian were damaged.  One mobile home's roof was punctured 25 times!

"I've got 19 holes in my roof.  Three of them go all the way through my ceiling," said Lisa Patrick, who lives in Vivian.


Large hail is a fact of life in America's heartland. Each spring and summer, we marvel at reports of hailstones the size of baseballs, softballs, or even grapefruit from intense supercell thunderstorms roaming the Plains. Some storm chasers wear helmets when documenting supercell thunderstorms.

TWC Severe Weather Expert, Dr. Greg Forbes (Find him on Facebook ), notes that there have been six other instances of 8-inch-diameter hail in the U.S. since 1950, including a stone shaped like a cigar-box in Izard County, AR on June 19, 1970.

Hailstones this large falling at speeds up to around 100 mph, surprisingly, don't often result in fatalities. This may be due to the relative infrequency of very large hailstones (say, baseball-size or larger) over densely-populated areas.

According to Dr. Forbes, there have been only six U.S. fatalities due to hail alone, dating back to the 1700s. The most recent death was a pizza deliveryman in Ft. Worth, TX on Mar. 28, 2000.

The world's hail capital may, in fact, be in northern India and Bangladesh. A single hailstorm killed 246 people in India on April 30, 1888. More recently, 92 were killed in Bangladesh by an April, 1986 hailstorm.  According to "Extreme Weather", by Christopher Burt, India and Bangladesh witness 10-15 days with hail each year, on average.

The world's heaviest authenticated hailstone, according to Burt, weighing in a 2.25 pounds, pelted Bangladesh in the aforementioned April, 1986 deadly hailstorm.  Its diameter was not recorded.

Unofficially, a hailstone weighing an incredible 4.18 pounds was said to have fallen in Kazakhstan in 1959.  In August, 1958, a 2.14 pound hailstone was documented in Strasbourg, France.