Climate and Weather


How large can hailstones become?

The average hailstone is about 0.25 inch (0.64 centimeter) in diameter. However, hailstones weighing up to 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilograms) are reported to have fallen in Hyderabad state in India in 1939, although scientists think these huge hailstones may be several stones that partly melted and stuck together. On April 14, 1986, hailstones weighing 2.5 pounds (1 kilogram) were reported to have fallen in the Gopalgang district of Bangladesh.

The largest hailstone ever recorded in the United States fell in Coffeyville, Kansas, on September 3, 1970. It measured 5.57 inches (14.15 centimeters) in diameter and weighed 1.67 pounds (0.75 kilogram).

Hail is precipitation consisting of balls of ice. Hailstones usually are made of concentric, or onion-like, layers of ice alternating with partially melted and refrozen snow, structured around a tiny central core. It is formed in cumulonimbus, or thunderclouds, when freezing water and ice cling to small particles in the air, such as dust. The winds in the cloud blow the particles through zones of different temperatures, causing them to accumulate additional layers of ice and melting snow and to increase in size.

Hail Size Estimates
Description Size
Pea size 0.25 inch
Penny/Dime 0.75 inch
Nickel 0.88 inch
Quarter 1.00 inch
Half Dollar or Susan B. Anthony Dollar 1.25 inches
Ping Pong Ball 1.50 inches
Golfball 1.75 inches
Hen Egg 2.00 inches
Tennis Ball 2.50 inches
Baseball 2.75 inches
Grapefruit 4.00 inches


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