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Texas hailstone confirmed as largest ever to fall in Lone Star State

By Lauren Fox, Accuweather.com
Texas hailstone confirmed as largest ever to fall in Lone Star State
While the hailstone, located a mile outside the center of Hondo, Texas, was record-breaking, another stone that fell a half-mile away the same day could have possibly been larger but was never officially measured. Photo courtesy of Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety

Shattered windows, dented cars and damaged homes and businesses became reality for portions of Texas and Oklahoma this spring when a massive hailstorm pelted the two states.

Hailstones from the storm ranged in size from golf balls and baseballs to grapefruits -- but one stone, in particular, has made a name for itself for its record-breaking size.

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A report released by the National Center for Environmental Information this month confirmed that one hailstone that fell broke the record for its "unheard of" size as the largest hailstone in the state of Texas, a State Climate Extremes Committee unanimously confirmed.

The stone fell 1 mile south-southwest of the center of Hondo, Texas, on April 28. It measured 19.73 inches in circumference and 6.4 inches in diameter, weighed a whopping 1.26 pounds and had a volume of 40.239 cubic inches.

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Another stone that fell a half-mile away the same day could have possibly been larger but was never officially measured.

"For hail to be considered 'severe,' it must be larger than 3/4 inch in diameter, so most hailstones are probably, in general, pea to marble size," AccuWeather meteorologist John Feerick said.

The record-breaking stone was officially measured in May after it appeared to have shrunk in size from April 28 -- the day it was originally photographed. The finders of the hailstone put it in the freezer but did not seal it in a plastic bag or another container, which could have caused it to shrink.

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According to a report from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Research Center, the person who found the hailstone said it had fallen through a tree before hitting the ground. But the report states that it doesn't look as though the stone sustained any damage during the fall, as the tree likely reduced the fall speed.

The hailstone discovered in Hondo, Texas, likely shrunk by the time it was officially measured by NWS Austin-San Antonio and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Committee. Photo courtesy of Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety

Another hailstone the NOAA described as "gargantuan" was discovered the same day south of U.S. Highway 90 in Hondo, about half a mile from the location of the record-breaking hailstone. The person who found it estimated the diameter to be 6 to 7 inches, meaning it could have potentially been larger than the record-breaking stone.

Whether that stone off the highway was the true record-breaker or not will forever remain a mystery, as it was used to make margaritas before it was able to be officially measured.

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Previously, the largest credibly reported hailstone diameters in Texas were 8 inches in Washington County in 1892, 7 or 8 inches in Winkler County in 1960, 6 inches in Moore County in 2010 and 6 inches in Ward County in 1991.

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No other measurements, such as circumference, weight or volume, were recorded for these hailstones, and the Hondo hailstone appears to be the largest one recorded, the NCEI says in its report.

Hailstones as large as the one reported on April 28 can cause tremendous damage, and an estimate from AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter suggests that the entire storm that night could have resulted in billions of dollars in damage. Photo courtesy of Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety

While hail is much more common in western Texas than it is in the rest of the United States, a stone of this size is "extremely unusual," Feerick said.

"It is extremely unusual, basically unheard of to have a hailstone 6 inches in diameter. That's somewhere between softball size and volleyball size and can do tremendous amounts of damage," he added.

The storm that produced the hailstones caused tremendous damage to Texas and Oklahoma. AccuWeather Senior Vice President and chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter predicts the storm to have caused $3.5 billion in damage, largely in part due to the fact that Norman, Okla., and Fort Worth and San Antonio in Texas were hit hard by the storms.

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"Some of the worst thunderstorms that formed also happened to form over highly populated areas," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda explained.

"The storms that did develop happened to hit three separate major population centers. If these storms happened outside of these cities, they would have probably gone largely unnoticed."

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