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What the Hail? Colorado State Climatologist Now Keeping Official Hailstone Records

Henry Reges big hailstone CSU.jpg
Colorado Climate Center
courtesy of Colorado State University
CoCoRaHS national coordinator Henry Reges with record South Dakota hailstone from 2010

Spring storms are well known for bringing damaging hail with them, such as one that hit the eastern Plains earlier this month. And though it may be impossible to say definitively where the biggest hailstone on record has fallen – or exactly how big it is - Colorado’s state climatologist wants to make it easier to prove those claims.

Colorado State University announced today that Nolan Doesken’s Colorado Climate Center is now officially tracking statistics on large hail.

Doesken is making it a cinch for anyone to document and report those golf ball-sized hail stones – no meteorological training needed. From the news release:

“Chances are there are at least 50 people in eastern Colorado who will say, ‘What the heck, we’ve seen way bigger hail than that!’” Doesken said. “That’s good, but they will need to prove their claim – by providing the stone itself or eyewitness reports along with excellent photos showing the stone with rulers or other known objects.”

Doesken and other researchers have developed documenting procedures – including how to preserve large hailstones for skeptical friends. (Over time it will lose mass if you just throw it in the freezer, Doesken says.)

How big is that ice chunk? Here's a handy guide:

  • Ping pong ball – 1.5 inches
  • Golf ball –1.75 inches
  • Tennis ball - 2.5 inches
  • Baseball - 2.75 inches
  • Hockey puck - 3 inches
  • Softball - 4 inches
  • Grapefruit - 4.5 inches
  • CD/DVD - 4.75 inches
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