Massive Hailstone Could Break World Record

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On Friday, July 23 severe thunderstorms rolled through the small town of Vivian, South Dakota which is located about 32 miles south of Pierre. The storms produced large hailstones. One hailstone in particular was found by a ranch hand that night. It unofficially measured 8 inches in diameter with a circumference of 18.5 inches. This hailstone could beat the current record-holding hailstone that fell in Aurora, Nebraska on June 22, 2003. It was 7 inches in diameter with a circumference of 18.75 inches.


Vivian is located in Lyman County, South Dakota. Image: Wikipedia

Members of the National Climate Extremes Committee will meet this week to evaluate the South Dakota stone and determine whether it in fact set a record. Official measurements of the hailstone will be made and the stone will be weighed by a certified scale. Hailstones are measured both by size and weight. In fact, there could be two records at one time, one in terms of size and another in weight. Although the Aurora stone holds the record as the largest hailstone officially measured, Gopalganj District, Bangladesh holds the record for the location of where the heaviest hailstone has ever fallen at 2.25 lbs.


Hailstone that fell in South Dakota on Friday may set a new record. Image: National Weather Service, Aberdeen

Almost every home in Vivian was damaged by the storms with hailstones breaking through roofs and leaving holes in ceilings. Hailstones also smashed through car windshields leaving at least five injured on I-90.

Before the ranch hand found this particular hailstone, he said it laid outside about an hour and a half and it had melted quite a bit. He said he picked up the hailstone because of its unusual “spider” legs, not because of its size and if he knew it might be a record he would have looked for a bigger one.

Image: National Weather Service, Aberdeen

The hailstone has been sitting in a freezer the past few days before being transported to get official measurements. Even though the stone has been in the freezer, just sitting there it can shrink over time going from a solid to a gas in a process called sublimation. In the mean time, we’ll just have to wait and see if the Vivian hailstone will be large enough to break the world record.

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