Record-sized hailstone

A slight deviation from earthquakes.

During the several seasons I worked on staff at a high adventure camp above 9,000 feet elevation, I loved it when storms came through. The normal hail--the pellet or up to marble-sized stuff was fun, and intimidating, when it pounded on the roof of the lodge.

After one storm where there was larger than normal (up to 1 inch) hail, I was walking through the large alpine meadow and came across a vole that had died when it had been struck by a hailstone.

Over the years I've read and seen pictures of large hail. You've probably seen images of some of them. Sizes range from golf ball to grapefruit.

In Australia the record hail size is 14 cm (5.5 inches).

On October 19 a storm in North Queensland dropped large hail. A 16 cm (6.3 inches) hailstone was reported.

This article BOM says 'Australian record'-sized hailstones have fallen on North Queensland reported that hail that large has a terminal velocity of 100 km per hour. That's about 62 mph for those of us not familiar with the metric system.

I'm not sure how heavy a hailstone that size would be.

Imagine something the size of a very large grapefruit hurtling at you at over 60 miles per hour. This is within the average speed of a fast ball thrown by junior high pitchers. College-level and higher fastballs close in on 90 mph.

Getting hit by a fast ball hurts. Yes, that's an understatement. And that ball is smaller than the large hailstone.

Six-inch hailstones would certainly cause a lot of damage and injury for people and animals who aren't under cover. You'd need a shield over your head to go out in that stuff.

This photo is from Wikipedia, and it shows a hailstone that's a little smaller than what fell in Queensland. None of the photos in the article actually showed the record-breaking hailstone.

large hailstone

Signs of the times? Absolutely. Records keep breaking for all kinds of disasters.

How would hail this size affect your home? Most roofs would likely survive, though the shingles might be a bit damaged. The hail could certainly break windows.

The largest hailstone recorded (at least in the United States) fell on 23 July 2010. It was 8 inches in diameter (about the size of a volleyball), 18.62 inches around, and it weighed 1.9375 pounds Record Setting Hail Event in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010

Now imagine the damage a larger hailstone would cause. I'm guessing over the next few years we'll continue to see larger hailstones. Possibly more frequent as well. If the storm's big enough it could not only damage homes but also infrastructure, knocking out utility systems.

If you believe the Book of Revelation to identify trials and destruction of the last days, there's a mention of hailstones that are about the weight of a talent (estimated to be from 75 to 100 pounds. That hailstone would likely be around 29 inches in diameter and travel over 250 mph (possibly up to 284 mph).


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