Weather Whys May 14, 2015

Courtesy Texas A&M

Q:  What’s the largest hail stone ever recorded in the U.S.?

A: It’s a recent record, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. “The largest recorded hail stone in U.S. history fell on July 23, 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota, measuring 8 inches in diameter and weighing 1.94 pounds. The stone is on ice and preserved at the National Center of Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. The previous record hailstone fell in Aurora, Nebraska, on June 22, 2003, and measured 7 inches in diameter and weighed 1.67 pounds.”

Q:  Can’t hail that size hurt people and animals?
A: Absolutely, and large hail stones frequently injure people besides the obvious structural damage they can cause, McRoberts adds. “During a severe storm in Montana in 1978, about 200 sheep were killed by large hail stones,” he adds. “Weather experts have determined that a hail stone the size of a baseball – a size which frequently occurs – often weighs about one-third of a pound and can travel up to 90 miles per hour from its source cloud. Also, NOAA figures show that there were more than 5,400 hail storms in the U.S. in 2013 alone.  So the damage that hail can cause – to people, animals and buildings – can be immense. That’s why hail storms can cause tens of millions of dollars in property damage.”