Record-Breaking Hail: The Largest and Most Destructive Hailstorms

Record-Breaking Hail: Oklahoma Storm Shatters Local Record

Oklahoma recently experienced a record-breaking hailstorm. The National Weather Service measured a hailstone at a staggering 5.25 inches, making it the largest on record for the area since the 1950s. This massive hailstone nearly broke the state record. The storm caused significant damage, impacting approximately 170 cars at a local Nissan dealership. A dealership salesman with over 20 years of experience described it as the worst hailstorm he had ever witnessed. This event highlights the intensity of the severe thunderstorms that swept across Oklahoma and other parts of the Plains states and Midwest.

How Big Can Hailstones Get? Shocking Records from Around the World

Your Car Insurance Won’t Believe This Hailstone
  • How hail forms: Hailstones start as small ice particles in the powerful updrafts of thunderstorms. As they swirl around in the cold upper atmosphere, they collect supercooled water droplets that freeze onto them, creating layers of ice. The stronger the updraft, the longer the hailstone stays suspended, growing larger.
  • Hailstone sizes: Hailstones come in various sizes, and meteorologists use common objects for comparison:
    • Pea-sized: About 1/4 inch in diameter
    • Marble-sized: About 1/2 inch in diameter
    • Grapefruit-sized: Around 4 inches in diameter
    • Baseball-sized: Around 2.75 inches in diameter
  • Record-breakers: The largest hailstone ever recorded in the US measured 8 inches in diameter and fell in Vivian, South Dakota. Grapefruit-sized hail is not uncommon in severe storms. While basketball-sized hail is incredibly rare, it’s not impossible under extreme conditions.

Nationwide Hail (United States) Records

  • Largest Diameter: 8 inches, Vivian, South Dakota (July 23, 2010)
  • Heaviest: 1.9375 pounds, Vivian, South Dakota (July 23, 2010)

World Hail Records

  • Heaviest: 2.25 pounds (1.02 kg), Gopalganj District, Bangladesh (April 14, 1986)

Important Notes:

  • Hailstone size is more commonly measured by diameter than circumference.
  • Historical records of hailstone size can be less reliable due to changes in measurement methods and technology.
  • The Gopalganj hailstorm in Bangladesh tragically resulted in 92 deaths.

Important to remember: Large hail, even the size of a baseball, can cause significant damage to property, crops, and can even be dangerous to people and animals caught outdoors. Head over to our Extreme Hail Tracker on this page and our map tracker here.

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