NOAA Magazine || NOAA Home Page

CENTRAL PLAINS STORM PRODUCED LARGEST HAILSTONE IN U.S. HISTORY

NOAA image of record-setting hailstone.August 1, 2003 ó A raging thunderstorm that pounded south-central Nebraska last month ended up leaving a little something extra for residents—and the meteorological record books. The largest hailstone ever recovered in the United States fell in Aurora on June 22, with a record 7-inch diameter and a circumference of 18.75 inches. (Click NOAA image for larger view of record-setting hailstone. Please credit “NOAA.)

The NOAA National Climate Extremes Committee, which is responsible for validating national records, formally accepted the measurements last week. The committee included a small team of experts from NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and the NOAA National Weather Service. The NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Hastings, Neb., provided the measurements.

“Were it not for the quick thinking of local residents, who found the hailstone and kept it from melting, we would have not known it existed,” said Jay Lawrimore, who chairs the committee.

The old record for the largest hailstone had a diameter of 5.7 inches, a circumference of 17.5 inches and was found in Coffeyville, Kan., on September 3, 1970.

NOAA image of record-setting hailstone.Lawrimore added that the Aurora hailstone didn’t break the record for the heaviest hailstone. “It was hard for us to get an accurate weight for this stone because a chunk of it hit the gutter of a house and 40 percent of it was lost,” he said. “We also think some of the stone’s mass might have melted before it was preserved in freezing conditions.” (Click NOAA image for larger view of record-setting hailstone. Please credit “NOAA.)

Along with Lawrimore, permanent members of the committee include Andy Horvitz, program manager of the NOAA National Weather Service Cooperative Weather Observer Network and Kelly Redmond, deputy director of NOAA Western Region Climate Center.

Meteorologists from Hastings and the NWS Central Region Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., participated in the review. Nancy Knight of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., made the measurements of the Coffeyville hailstone and was a special consultant for this review.

NOAA Satellites and Information operates three data centers, including the NOAA Climatic Data Center, which house global data bases in climatology, oceanography, solid earth geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics and paleoclimatology.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites

Media Contact:
John Leslie, NOAA Satellites and Information, (301) 457-5005