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Local Weather History: The Top 10 Largest Hailstones Ever Recorded In the Viewing Area

We have had our share of violent severe weather & this includes very large hailstones. Here are the biggest ones every documented in the viewing area.

Posted: May 27, 2020 8:59 PM
Updated: May 29, 2020 12:30 AM

The recent 5.33" hailstone measured in Texas got me digging through all of my records & research to determine the largest stones in our area.  Now, the largest stone documented in the U.S. fell at Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010.  It weighed 1.93 pounds & was 18.5" in circumference or 8" in diameter (around volleyball-sized).  These are the kinds of stones that will kill people & livestock.  These are the ones that will completely go through a solid roof.

Luckily, in these storms, most of the stones are 2-4" diameter (still BIG!) & then you get the couple random HUGE record-breaking stones.

Not long after, on September 5, 2010, a 7.75" stone was measured near Wichita, Kansas.

There have been other similar stones measured in weather history & thankfully they are measured with a tape & not just a ruler.  The circumference is a more accurate measure, but you have to make sure you do not handle the stone too much to prevent melting.  This taints the most accurate measurement of data.  You want to know the true size ASAP before melting.

8" stone was measured at Ponca City, Oklahoma on April 17, 1935, while 8" stone was recorded between Austin & Houston, Texas in December of 1892.

Near our area, the largest stone measurement I have recovered is from a violent t'storm between Springfield, Illinois & St. Louis on May 25, 1839.  At this site (New Greenfield, Illinois), it was reported that the hail storm killed cattle, sheep & hogs to chickens & thousands of birds.  One woman suffered a broken arm from a falling hailstone.  Most of the stones were reportedly 2.5-5" in diameter.  One was 17" in circumference or 6" in diameter.  The average weight of the stones was 1.2 pounds reportedly.

Interestingly, I came across an article in press talking about  hailstorms from Fulton & Miami to Wayne counties in Indiana on July 28, 1839.  1000 acres of ripe wheat & 20,000 bushels were lost at Rochester (founded in 1835, it was a tiny near-wilderness village at that time).  It also reportedly flattened prairie & stripped trees of foliage.  Hail accumulated to 4" deep.

Recently, 45 miles southwest of Chicago (at Minooka), a 4.75" diameter stone fell on June 10, 2015.  This was the official Illinois state record that had to be verified from NWS & then State Climate Extremes Committee.

So, here are the top 10 largest hailstones ever measured in the viewing area:

Diameter, date of storm/collection, in or the nearest community to report, county recorded:

1.  5.00" (CD/DVD or Small Cantaloupe)

June 30, 1877:  Lafayette, Tippecanoe County

2.  4.50" (Grapefruit Size)

June 19, 2009:  Talma, Fulton County

3.  4.25" (Grapefruit Size)

June 14, 2010: Boswell, Benton County

April 16, 2006:  Rochester, Fulton County

4.  4.00" (Softball Size)

August 18, 2001:  Oxford to Otterbein, Benton County

May 27, 2019:  Montmorenci, Tippecanoe County

5.  3.80"  (Softball Size)

May 12, 1886:  Forest, Clinton County

6.  3.50"  (Slightly Smaller Than a Softball)

September 30, 1977:  Covington, Fountain County 

7.  3.40"  (Slightly Smaller Than a Softball)

May 6, 1909:  West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County

8.  3.00" (Tea Cup Size)

May 20, 1870:  Rensselaer, Jasper County

April 9, 1953:  Independence (Warren) to Dayton (Tippecanoe) to Rossville (Clinton)

February 21, 1980:  Crawfordsville, Montgomery County

May 18, 2000:  Romney, Tippecanoe County

9.  2.80" (Near Baseball Size)

May 25, 1917:  Veedersburg, Fountain County

10.  2.75" (Baseball Size)

May 15, 1968:  Waveland, Montgomery County

June 6, 1971:  Frankfort, Clinton County

September 18, 1972: Mace, Montgomery County

June 14, 1975:  Dunn, Benton County

June 1, 1987:  Otterbein, Benton County

May 18, 2000: Stonebluff, Fountain County

July 6, 2003:  Royal Center, Cass County

May 21, 2014:  Waveland, Montgomery County

Note:  August 9, 1843, heavy, big hail fell 4 miles south of Round Grove on the "Grand Prairie" with much damage to vegetation.  Falling at 3 p.m. large stones were collected & were of such huge size, a man on horseback rode to Lafayette the next day to show local press.  The man mentioned how bushels of these large stones could be gathered after the storm.  There were still 2-3 stones that fit in pint jar (1" in diameter).  These were in warmth for 20.5 hours, so they were likely much, much larger during the storm.  However, no size was given, so I am unable to put it on this list, but it probably would make the survey. 

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