This year has been record breaking in many ways across the U.S. We have seen record highs and destructive storms all across the fruited plain. Even the state of Hawaii hasn’t been immune to the freakish weather. Officials there were summoned on March 9th to investigate a claim of “super size” hail and it turned out to be a record breaker. The stone fell in Oahu. You can see the hailstone pictured below, with a ruler to give some perspective of its size.
“The final measurement of the hailstone was 4 1/4 inches long, 2 1/4 inches tall, and 2 inches wide,” said Michael Cantin, warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s National Weather Service in Honolulu. The previous record dated back to 1950 and was only an inch in diameter.
What makes this find particularly interesting is that typically Hawaii doesn’t have the type of weather needed to support the creation of such a large hailstone. For this type of hailstone to be made takes a specific type of thunderstorm called a supercell. Supercells are the very severe type of thunderstorms known to produce tornadoes. Conditions in Hawaii generally do not lend themselves to the creation of such storms. Warm and moist air must rise to meet cold drier air as well as, shifting winds which move the moist air high aloft. March 9th just happened to be one of those perfect days to produce such a storm.
If you would like to learn more about supercells and hailstorms, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’s website at NOAA.gov.