Wichita hailstone sets state record

10/02/2010 12:00 AM

06/26/2012 4:51 PM

A hailstone that fell in Wichita last month set a state record for size and missed tying a national record by a quarter inch, state climate officials said Friday.

The hailstone, which fell near Pawnee and 119th Street West on Sept. 15, measured 7.75 inches across. That easily surpassed the 5.7-inch diameter of a stone that fell in Coffeyville on Sept. 3, 1970.

"We know it was at least that big," state climatologist Mary Knapp said of the Wichita stone. "How big it was when it actually fell, we can't tell."

Knapp said the couple that recovered the hailstone in the 2200 block of South Milstead — Melissa and Joshua McCarter — didn't immediately retrieve it.

"They waited 15 minutes for the stones to abate before they went out and retrieved it," she said. "Breaking the record isn't worth risking life and limb over."

The McCarters measured the hailstone with a cloth tape measure, took a picture of it and sent it to a local television station, Knapp said. The station forwarded the picture to the National Weather Service, which examined the hailstone the next morning and began the certification process.

Members of the six-person State Climate Extremes Committee met Thursday, examined the pictures and data, and declared the hailstone to be the state's largest.

Knapp said there is a reason, aside from assigning bragging rights, for keeping accurate measurements of hailstones.

"Are we getting more severe events? Are we getting them more often?" she said. "It's kind of difficult to tell if we don't have historical records to refer to."

The nation's largest recorded hailstone, which fell July 23 in Vivian, S.D., measured 8 inches in diameter.

Because it was 80 degrees outside when the Wichita hailstone fell, Knapp said, it's possible that it was larger than 8 inches when it hit the ground.

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