Hailstorms at a region in Canada in the past few days have unleashed hailstones as big as sports balls, with one “record-breaking stone” found by a research group that had a slightly bigger diameter than a standard DVD.
The field team of Western University’s Northern Hail Project (NHP) found the massive hailstone which weighed 292.71g and had a 123mm diameter under a tree canopy northwest of Markerville – breaking the record of a previous hailstone collected decades back in 1973 in Saskatchewan’s Cedoux which weighed 290gm.
An average DVD in comparison has a 120mm diameter.
The Alberta-based research group said they collected at least seven bags of stones without realizing they were carrying a record-breaker.
“It wasn’t until I returned and started sifting through the bags that I found the record-breaking stone. It was bagged with other stones without realizing what we had in our possession,” said Francis Lavigne-Theriault, a member of the group’s field team.
Julian Brimelow, the group’s executive director, said the discovery of the hailstone is “like hitting the jackpot so this Markerville sample joins an elite club of giant hailstones”.
“This stone will also help us refine our estimate of just how large it is possible to hail to grow,” Mr Brimelow said in a news release.
This would also help the researchers to understand what conditions are required for hailstorms to produce these ice chunks as giant hailstones are a rare discovery.
“Once we have measured and 3D-scanned the Markerville hailstone, we can then make thin sections. The growth layers evident in those will reveal information on the hailstone’s growth history in the storm,” he said.
Meanwhile in Innisfail, which is around 24km away from Markerville, hailstones the size of softballs rained down on cars and houses and residents took to social media to share photos of the damage caused by the heavy downpour.
“Got stuck in the huge hail storm at the bottom of Antler Hill between #reddeer and #Innisfail. Thankfully it’s just the vehicle that got damaged. Crazy stuff to experience though,” said Matt Berry, one of the locals stuck in the storm on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway between Innisfail and Red Deer.
Photos shared by him showed his car’s windshield thoroughly cracked and caved from the impact of heavy hailstones, while the roof and the car’s hood were covered with dents.
He had gotten on the stretch around 6pm when the weather was perfect but within 10 minutes, the weather took a turn for the worse.
“The next thing I know, my windshield was caving in on me and cracking and breaking. My windshield is absolutely destroyed.… I was just scared of this thing coming in on top of me,” he said, reported Calgary Eyeopener.
His car was one of the 34 vehicles damaged on Monday, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). At least three collisions due to the storm were reported and numerous people suffered minor injuries, the police said.
On Wednesday, the Canada government’s Environment Canada department said softball-sized hail, measuring 10.6cm, rained down on Markerville, while Innisfail and Milnerton, and Sylvan Lake and Wimborne received hail the size of baseballs (7.5cm) and tennis balls (6.4cm) ) respectively, reported CBC.