Texas hailstone confirmed as largest ever in state
AccuWeather's Adam Del Rosso spoke with Dr. Ian Giammanco from the IBHS about recent record-setting hail that came down from a storm in Texas.
Shattered windows, dented cars and damaged homes and businesses became reality for portions of Texas and Oklahoma this past April when a massive hailstorm pelted the two states. Hailstones from the storm ranged in size from golf balls and baseballs to grapefruits -- but one stone, in particular, has made a name for itself for its record-breaking size.
A report released by the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) on June 22 confirmed that one hailstone that fell amid the damaging storm broke the record for its "unheard of" size as the largest hailstone in the state of Texas, a State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) unanimously confirmed.
The stone fell 1 mile south-southwest of the center of Hondo, Texas, roughly around 7:35 p.m. CDT on April 28. It measured 19.73 inches in circumference and 6.4 inches in diameter and weighed a whopping 1.26 pounds with a volume of 40.239 cubic inches.
While the hailstone located a mile outside the center of Hondo was record-breaking, another hailstone that fell half a mile away that same day could have possibly been larger but was never officially measured. (Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety)
"For hail to be considered 'severe,' it must be 1 inch in diameter or greater, so most hailstones are probably, in general, pea to marble size," AccuWeather Meteorologist John Feerick said.
The record-breaking stone was officially measured on May 6, after it appeared to have shrunk in size from April 28 -- the day it was originally photographed. The finders of the hailstone put it in the freezer but did not seal it in a plastic bag or another container, which could have caused it to shrink.
According to a report from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) Research Center, the individual who found the hailstone confirmed that it had fallen through a tree before hitting the ground, but the report states that it does not look as though the stone sustained any damage during the fall, as the tree likely reduced the fall speed.
The hailstone discovered in Hondo, Texas, likely shrunk by the time it was officially measured by NWS Austin-San Antonio and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Committee. (Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety)
Another hailstone the NOAA described as "gargantuan" was discovered the same day south of U.S. Highway 90 in Hondo, about half a mile from the location of the confirmed record-breaking hailstone. The individual who found the stone estimated the diameter to be 6-7 inches, meaning it could have potentially been bigger than the record-breaking stone that was confirmed.
Whether that stone off the highway was the true record-breaker or not will forever remain a mystery, as it was used to make margaritas before it was able to be officially measured.
The largest credibly reported hailstone diameters in Texas prior to the one in April are 8 inches in Washington County on Dec. 6, 1892,
7-8 in Winkler County on May 31, 1960, 6 inches in Moore County on June 12, 2010, and 6 inches in Ward County on May 10, 1991.
No other measurements, such as circumference, weight or volume, were recorded for these hailstones, and the Hondo hailstone appears to be the largest one recorded, NCEI says in its report.
Hailstones as large as the one reported on April 28 can cause tremendous damage, and an estimate from AccuWeather Senior Vice President and Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter suggests that the entire storm that night could have resulted in billions of dollars in damage. (Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety)
While hail is much more common in western Texas than it is in the rest of the country, a stone of this size is "extremely unusual," Feerick said.
"It is extremely unusual, basically unheard of to have a hailstone 6 inches in diameter. That's somewhere between softball size and volleyball size and can do tremendous amounts of damage," he said.
The storm the giant hailstones fell from caused tremendous damage to both Texas and Oklahoma, and AccuWeather Senior Vice President and Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter predicts the storm to have caused $3.5 billion in damage, largely in part due to the fact that Norman, Oklahoma, and Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas, were hit hard by the storms.
"Some of the worst thunderstorms that formed also happened to form over highly populated areas," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda explained. "The storms that did develop happened to hit three separate major population centers. If these storms happened outside of these cities, they would have probably gone largely unnoticed."
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