Some estimates put the stone at more than a half-foot wide
By Matthew Cappucci — May 2, 2021 at 12:36 a.m. GMT+10
Everything’s bigger in Texas. Apparently that extends to hail, including one stone that may have been more than a half-foot wide.
It fell amid a barrage of prolific hailstorms that incurred potentially billions of dollars in damages across Fort Worth, Oklahoma City and areas west of San Antonio Wednesday night. Hardest hit were areas near the University of Oklahoma, where hail damaged virtually every vehicle exposed to the elements.
Perhaps the most potent storm of the day blossomed over Coahuila, Mexico, during the midafternoon before drifting east into South Texas, where it dropped hail the size of grapefruits. While the largest official report stood at 4 inches, emerging evidence suggests some of the stones may break new state records.
One stone that landed in Hondo, Tex., about 30 miles west of San Antonio, may vie for a state record.
Matt Kumjian, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Penn State who specializes in the study of giant hail, used photogrammetry — a trigonometry-based approach of estimating the size of objects from photographs — to calculate just how large the stone may have been. His estimate? Between 6.27 and 6.57 inches across.Advertisement
“The photograph contained a reference object (a U.S. quarter coin, which has a diameter of 24.26 mm),” explained Kumjian in an email. “The camera’s perspective was at an angle, so there is a slight skew in the dimensions of the quarter. As such, I used the two extreme measurements of the quarter as references.”
Six inches is a conservative bound, but would still set a new state record if confirmed. The current record is held by a stone that fell on May 20, 2019, in the Texas Panhandle town of Wellington. Similarly massive hail was measured in Smithville, about an hour southeast of Austin, on March 18, 2018.
Hail up to 5.33 inches in diameter pounded Burkburnett, near the Red River, when a strikingly-sculpted rotating supercell thunderstorm loomed overhead last May.
“This means [Wednesday’s] hailstone counts as ‘gargantuan,’” wrote Kumjian, “and is one of only several well-documented cases of such large hail.”