Hailstones

Mount Davis

Pennsylvania

June 2014

We cross the broad summit on the rocky trail, surrounded by a still recovering forest.  In July of 1999 a storm raged over much of this high point area of the state, smacking down trees and ripping up the flora.  Great wind damage.  There were reports of balls of ice 1.75 inches in diameter falling from the sky.  Kickass hailstones.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, recognizes that hailstones come in various official sizes.  1.75 inches is considered the size of a golf ball, according to NOAA.  The United States Golf Association considers, nay, mandates that the size of a golf ball be 1.680 inches.  But we’re not really talking about golf balls, we’re talking about hailstones the size of golf balls

Here’s a useful list of hailstone comparisons you may want to keep in your wallet…

diameter helpful comparison

1/4” pea

1/2” mothball, or marble

1 ½” walnut, or ping pong ball

1 ¾” golf ball

2” hen egg

2 ½” tennis ball

2 ¾” *baseball

3” tea cup

4” grapefruit

4 ½” softball

* Here we go again.  Paragraph 1.09 of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball specifies the allowable circumference of a baseball:  “It shall…measure not less than nine nor more than 9 1/4 inches in circumference.”  For the sake of our discussion, we do the math, round out the number, and find that this works out to between 2.86 and 2.94 inches in diameter.  Compare this to the size of a 2 ¾” NOAA baseball, which is smaller.  As any baseball fan knows, the rules of baseball are far more strict than the rules of weather.

If you go ahead and measure the other comparisons, you will find similar discrepancies.  Hen eggs, for example, come in six sizes, ranging from jumbo on down to peewee.  Really.  Peewee eggs.  NOAA says they are two inches in diameter.  The chickens say they range from 1.6 to 2.8 inches, including the shell.  They should know.  Of course it has to do with the size of the chicken.  If you see hailstones the size of chickens falling from the sky, run away!

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