Hailstone that fell in Cullman County on March 19 is state record

Hailstone that fell in Cullman County on March 19 is state record
A record-setting hailstone as it was collected after a storm dropped it on Walter, Ala., on March 19, 2018. (Photo courtesy Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.)
A research meteorologist from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety measures the volume of a record-setting hailstone that fell near Cullman on March 19, 2018. (Photo courtesy Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety.)
A research meteorologist from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety measures the volume of a record-setting hailstone that fell near Cullman on March 19, 2018. (Photo courtesy Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety.)

CULLMAN COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - A large hailstone that fell in Cullman County in the March 19 storm has been officially declared the largest recorded hailstone to fall in Alabama.

An ad hoc committee that included the Alabama state climatologist and officials from both the National Weather Service and the National Centers for Environmental Information reviewed data about the hailstone and unanimously agreed it will set the initial state record in four parameters: diameter, weight, volume and circumference.

"Based on federal guidelines and with the coordination of federal and state officials, we established this as the first Alabama hailstone record," said Dr. John Christy, Alabama's state climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The record-setting hailstone had a maximum diameter of 5.38 inches along its longest axis. It weighed 9.8 ounces and had a total volume of 19.8 cubic inches. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety in Tampa, Florida, a baseball has a volume of about 13.4 cubic inches, while a 12-ounce soft drink can has a volume of 25 cubic inches.

The hailstone fell in Walter in the front yard of Cullman Times writer Craig Mann, who notified the National Weather Service office in Huntsville. Staff meteorologists from the IIBHS scanned and measured five hailstones Mann collected as part of its research on hail. The other four hailstones ranged in size from 4.55 to 3.61 inches in diameter.

"Was this the largest hailstone that fell that day or from this event?" asked Victor Murphy, climate and co-op services program manager at the National Weather Service's southern regional headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. "We don't know, but it is the largest one that was kept and recorded."

"It gives us a baseline in terms of a maximum hailstone that's been measured in the state," said Chris Darden, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Huntsville. "This is also the first hailstone measured for volume in the U.S., and that's a pretty neat thing. It sets a standard for other records in other states going forward."

Information about past and future hailstones can be emailed to weather_record@nsstc.uah.edu. If the report of a new record hailstone is deemed to be reliable, officials at either the state climatologist's office or one of the state National Weather Service offices will begin the process of reviewing the data and making a decision about the possible new record.

The largest hailstone ever recorded in the U.S. fell on July 23, 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota. It was 8 inches in diameter, 18.62 inches in circumference, and weighed 1.93 pounds.

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