Hail records: What was the biggest, heaviest, and deadliest hail around the world?


Can you imagine a melon-sized chunk of ice falling out of the sky? Your car windshield or even your roof being destroyed? And what about your head? Hail is one of the biggest hazards during severe thunderstorms. While normally small and harmless, it may grow to tennis ball sizes or even larger, causing total destruction, injuries and in extreme cases death. Now, what is the biggest, heaviest, and deadliest hail?

Hail world records: the biggest, heaviest, and deadliest hail
Hail world records: the biggest, heaviest, and deadliest hail. Photo via NWS Aberdeen

Largest known hailstone (diameter): July 23, 2010 – Vivian, South Dakota

A 20.5 cm (8.1 inches) hailstone fell from the sky during a memorable hailstorm on July 23, 2010 in Vivian, South Dakota. The hailstone had a circumference of 47.3 cm (18.625 inches) and a weight of 0.88 kg (1.9375 pounds)! When it fell, it made a hole in a roof and created a small impact crater of 25 cm across in the ground.

Hail of similar size had already been reported in the past, i.e., Ponca City, Oklahoma: 20 cm (7.9 inches) hail on April 17, 1935.

Largest known hailstone (circumpherence): June 22, 2003 – Aurora, Nebraska

A 47.6 cm (18.75 inches) circumference hailstone was found on June 22, 2003 in Aurora, Nebraska. The hailstone was 17.8 cm (7.0 inches) in diameter. No weight has officially been weighed as the hailstone partially broke off as it hit a roof of a house. During this storm, craters up to 36 cm (14.6 inches) across were recorded in Hamilton County – including Aurora.

NWS Hastings staff measuring the diameter and circumference of the Aurora, Nebraska hailstone. Again, the ruler is in inches! Photo: NWS Hastings.

Heaviest hailstone known: April 14, 1986 – Gopalganj district, Bangladesh

The heaviest hailstone that has been authenticated by authorities fell during an very severe hailstorm in Gopalganj district, Bangladesh on April 14, 1986, during which 92 people died.

The chunk of ice was 1.0 kg (2.25 pounds)! The European record is held by a 0.97 kg hailstone that fell in Strasbourg, France on August 11, 1958. 

Biggest hail accumulation known: June 3, 1959 – Seldon, Kansas

A persistent, virtually stationary hailstorm hit Seldon, Kansas on June 3, 1959, producing a blanket of hail up to 45 cm thick over an area of 140 square kilometers. Incredible!

Aerial view of the 45 cm thick blanket of hail over Seldon, Kansas on June 3, 1959. Photo: Norton Telegram, Norton, Kansas. © Norton Telegram, Norton, Kansas.

Deadliest hailstorm known: April 22, 1888, Moradabad & Beheri districts, India

The April 22, 1888, Moradabad & Beheri districts, India is the deadliest hailstorm in recorded modern history, with 246 fatailities.

Now enjoy some insane hailstorm videos:

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