WeatherTalk: Very large hail is very rare

The largest measured hailstone fell in South Dakota in 2010.

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FARGO — Thunderstorms often develop updrafts strong enough to overcome the force of gravity long enough to send raindrops up into the colder tops of the clouds where they freeze. Eventually, the hailstones become heavy enough that gravity overcomes the force of the updraft, and they fall to the ground. Small hail is a relatively common occurrence during summer.

Very large hail is very rare, but almost every summer we get a report or two of hailstones the size of baseballs or even softballs falling somewhere in the Dakotas or Minnesota. Hail this big requires an updraft of around 100 mph or higher. Such an updraft is difficult to maintain, so these super large hailstones are rare in any one location. Fortunately, only a few of us will see one in our lifetimes. The largest hailstone on record (measured) fell on Vivian, South Dakota, on July 23, 2010.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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