AccuWeather, by Amanda Schmidt: Monster hail fell from the sky and hammered areas of the central United States on Tuesday, shattering a state record. Earlier on Tuesday before the storms developed, AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer warned that Colorado’s state hail record could be in jeopardy given the intensity of the storms that he saw developing.
His prediction came to fruition on Tuesday afternoon [August 13, 2019] when a hailstone with an unofficial measurement of a maximum diameter of 4.83 inches fell in Bethune, Colorado, on Tuesday afternoon. The record was confirmed on Wednesday evening by the Colorado Climate Center and the National Weather Service office in Goodland, Kansas. The previous state record in Colorado was 4.5 inches.
As the Colorado Climate Center said on Twitter, photos indicate that the stone could have been even larger than recorded due to the time in between its falling and when it was put in the freezer.
The weight of the record-breaking hailstone came in at 8.5 ounces.
A dramatic video posted on social media captures one truck driver in an intense hailstorm in Frederick, Colorado, on Tuesday night. The truck driver, Brittney Richardson, expressed concern while in the back of her truck cabin.
“I heard kind of a bang and I thought somebody hit the truck,” Richardson said. “The truck started rocking and we have large hail coming down.”
As Richardson narrates the video, large thuds can be heard in the background. She feared the truck would be “totaled” by the large hail and told Storyful the experience was “absolutely terrifying.”
Timmer was staked out in far northeastern Colorado to monitor the storms. He reports that the area experienced a “perfect combination of wind shear, low-level moisture and mid-level dry air” to stir up some strong severe storms.
The main storm in question developed in the High Plains near Bethune on Tuesday in the afternoon with a report of hailstones in excess of 5 inches in diameter, which would be similar to pirate ship cannonball-sized, at 3:35 p.m. MT, according to AccuWeather Senior Storm Warning Meteorologist Eddie Walker.
“The atmosphere was primed for strong to severe thunderstorms with very high instability, modest speed shear and strong low level directional shear. This allows for long-lived storm structures with strong, sustainable updrafts,” Walker said.
Another remarkable aspect of the hail was how it presented on radar. Brian Bledsoe, the chief meteorologist for Channel 11 news in Colorado Springs who shared photos of the monster hail on Twitter, marveled at radar imagery depicting the hail that was falling from the sky. “Given the way the radar looked,” Bledsoe said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the hailstones the storm unleashed are indeed record-breaking.
Sizable hail was also reported throughout the Plains, in states like Nebraska, Kansas and Minnesota, on Tuesday.
Severe thunderstorms across the High Plains continued into Wednesday, with 38 more hail reports coming into NWS’s Storm Prediction Center, primarily in far eastern Colorado and northeastern Wyoming. While there was not another record-breaking hail stone like Tuesday, a number of locations reported tennis ball and baseball-sized hail, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda.
On Wednesday, tennis ball-sized hail fell near Bethune, causing reports of window damage. Wind-driven ping-pong ball-sized hail also caused window damage to a residence in northeastern Wyoming on Wednesday.
“While the main threat for damaging storms will shift a bit farther east in the Plains today [Thursday], there could still be a strong storm or two in the western High Plains, especially in eastern Wyoming again. The main threat will be in the northern and central Plains, where there could also be giant hail today,” Sojda said.
“Hail of four inches or greater is relatively uncommon, but usually happens at least a few times each year during the spring and summer months,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio said. “Big hail like this is a little bigger than a grapefruit. This can easily kill people and livestock.”
Hail of this size is most common west of the Mississippi and east of the Front Range, and is most likely in the High Plains.
While the size of the recent hail is impressive, it does not break the nation’s record, which was set on July 23, 2010, over portions of South Dakota. Several super cell thunderstorms moved over the region, with one particularly strong storm that tracked southeastward across portions of Stanley, Jones, and Lyman counties.
One of the hardest hit locations was the community of Vivian, South Dakota, where extremely large hail, destructive winds up to 80 mph, and a brief tornado were reported.
A record-setting hailstone was discovered in Vivian, measuring an astonishing 8.0 inches in diameter, 18.625 inches in circumference, and weighing in at an amazing 1.9375 pounds, according to the NWS. Many other stones with diameters exceeding 6 inches were also noted during the storm survey. “It punched a hole in a wooden deck!” Ferrell pointed out.
This hailstone broke the previous U.S. hail size record for diameter and weight, which were previously a diameter of 7.0 inches on June 22, 2003, in Aurora, Nebraska, and a weight of 1.67 pounds on September 3, 1970, in Coffeyvile, Kansas. The Aurora hailstone retains the record for circumference with 18.75 inches.
Maybe these hailstorms are precursors to the hail of the seven last plagues.
“And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.” Revelation 16:21.