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South Dakota hail stone measures 8 inches in diameter – likely world record

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 7:48am MDT
A massive hailstone with a diameter of 8 inches will likely set the record as the largest hailstone in terms of diameter and weight. (NWS)

A massive hailstone with a diameter of 8 inches will likely set the record as the largest hailstone in terms of diameter and weight. (NWS)

Hail is one of the most damaging weather events capable of doing thousands of dollars worth of damage to homes and vehicles and utterly shredding crops. Last week in South Dakota the mother of all hail stones appears to have fallen – a beast weighing nearly two pounds and measuring 8 inches in diameter.

On the evening of July 23rd severe weather rolled through the northeastern corner of South Dakota bringing with it a great deal of hail and some tornadoes. Near Vivian in Faulk County, the hail grew to proportions likely not seen anywhere else.

Ranch hand Les Scott watched the drama unfold as the hail pummeled the surrounding land. The stones were large enough that holes the size of coffee cans were left in the ground.

One particular hailstone caught Scott’s eye due to its sheer size. After retrieving it, he stuck it in his freezer. Word soon traveled about the massive chunk of ice and National Weather Service personnel made preliminary measurements placing the diameter at 8 inches with a circumference over 18 ½ inches.

Yesterday, the service returned to Vivian to transport the stone to the closest certified scale at the local post office to have it weighed. The scale tipped at an amazing 1.9375 pounds. It also had lost a bit in size dropping to 17 inches around.

Scott said the hailstone was quite a bit larger when he first found it, possibly as large as 11 inches in diameter. However, power was out in the area for six hours Friday and after he pulled it out to show various people, it lost some of its mass.

The current world record setting hailstone in terms of size fell on June 22, 2003 in Aurora, Nebraska. It measured 7 inches across and 18.75 inches in circumference. The heaviest hailstone weighed 1.67 pounds and fell in Coffeyville, Kansas on September 3, 1970,

It is likely that the Vivian hail stone will break the record for diameter and weight handily. An official determination however will be made by NOAA’s National Climate Extremes Committee which could take a months or years to render a decision.

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