How big were the largest hailstones on record?

The maximum size of hailstones is not known positively for the simple reason that trained observers are not often on the spot to measure them ‘ when they fall. Human beings ‘have a weakness for exaggerating the size of the hailstones they see fall as well as the fish they catch, and the difficulty lies in verifying the statements of those who say they have seen hailstones of enormous size. The old Teutonic root of hail signifies “pebble” and the name is descriptive of most of the hailstones that fall. Nevertheless hailstones larger than one’s fist and weighing more than a pound have been reported several times on good authority. The reports of unusually large hailstones frequently refer to them as being the size of hens’ eggs, baseballs, tennis balls and even grapefruit. During a storm in Natal in South Africa in 1874 hailstones weighing a pound and a half went through a corrugated iron roof as if it had been made of paper. At Cazolia, Spain, in 1829 houses were crushed under blocks of ice, some of which were said to have weighed four and a half pounds. But these reports, like all accounts dating back many years, should be taken with a grain of salt. Possibly some of the reports refer to cases where masses of ice resulted from the coalescence of a number of smaller hailstones lying closely packed together on the ground. In The Voyage of the Beagle Charles Darwin wrote of exceptionally large hailstones that fell in South America in 1833. These hailstones were “as large as small apples, and extremely hard.” They fell with such violence that they killed “the greater number of the wild animals,” including deer and “ostriches.” Hailstones three inches in diameter were reported from Dallas, Texas, May 8,1926; and hailstones four inches in diameter were reported from Tullulah, Louisiana, April 21, 1929. Up to date (1946) perhaps the largest hailstone ever measured, weighed and photographed immediately after falling was one that fell at Potter, Nebraska, July 6,1928. It was 17 inches in circumference, 5 inches in diameter, and weighed 1% pounds. Of course, there is no good reason for supposing that larger hailstones have not fallen in the past and will fall in the future. Hailstones often break windows, penetrate automobile tops, kill poultry and birds and do great [ 495 ] . damage to trees and crops. Although human beings are occasionally badly cut or otherwise injured by hailstones, there are few authenticated cases of persons having been killed-by them. One of the ten plagues of Egypt was a rain of fire and hail. Joshua 10:11 says of the Amorites fleeing before Joshua “that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.”