Huge Hailstone Sets Hawaii Record

Record-setting hailstone from the Hawaii 'supercell' thunderstorm that hit Oahu on March 9. Credit: NOAA.

by Jeff Masters, via the WunderBlog

A hailstone with the diameter of roughly that of a grapefruit that hit Oahu on March 9, 2012, has been confirmed as the largest hailstone on record for the state of Hawaii, according to NOAA.

The record-setting hailstone was dropped by a “supercell” thunderstorm on the windward side of Oahu. There were numerous reports of hail with diameters of 2 to 3 inches and greater. Hail the size of a penny (diameter of 3/4 inch) or quarter (diameter of one inch) has been reported in Hawaii only eight times since records began, and there is no record of hail larger than 1 inch in diameter. Hail the size of golf balls and baseballs can only form within intense thunderstorms called supercells. These supercells need warm, moist air to rise into progressively colder, drier air, as well as winds changing direction and increasing speed with increasing height off the ground.

For both sets of conditions to exist at the same time in Hawaii is extremely rare, but that did occur on March 9. Conditions that day were ideal for a supercell to form, and the storm looked very much like supercell thunderstorms common in the Central U.S. during spring. Supercells can also produce tornadoes, another rarity in Hawaii. The same hail-producing supercell produced a confirmed EF-0 tornado with winds of 60-70 mph in Lanikai and Enchanted Lakes on Oahu.

Jeff Masters is the co-founder of the Weather Underground, where this piece was originally published.

7 Responses to Huge Hailstone Sets Hawaii Record

  1. John Tucker says:

    Can you imagine the carbon costs in infrastructure damage that kind of hail and the storms containing it brings?

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Looks like it easily can penetrate any bone structure.

  3. John Tucker says:

    Klingon Empire Hail.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    Gaia is not pleased with the human meddlings.

  5. George D says:

    Interesting, but weather, not climate. I’m always a little nervous when Masters or others place a single data-point without relating adequately it to change over time.

    (Not a criticism of what is generally a very good climate and policy blog).

  6. Timeslayer says:

    Right, I’m sure that all of these extremely weird weather events are unrelated to the most rapid global climate change in millions of years.


  7. Steve says:

    Earth has been making very radical climate changes whenever it saw fit since LONG before we ever crawled from the caves. It will continue to LONG after we are gone from this this place. Just saying.