The story usually goes something like this: “You people in (location X) have never even seen a real storm. Why, where I come from, we get hailstones the size of tennis balls.”
Residents of Vivian, South Dakota can make this claim without the slightest exaggeration. One year ago, a thunderstorm swept over them and dropped hailstones that made tennis balls look small.
Some of them were 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. I am seriously impressed. Once, many years ago, I was caught in a hailstorm that dropped 1-inch hailstones. They shattered enough shingles on my parents’ roof that we ended up getting a new roof. I can’t imagine the potential damage to roofs, cars, people and livestock from 8-inch hailstones.
Here’s the storm that dropped those rocks of ice:
I love storms, but that looks positively menacing. If I saw that out my front windshield, I’d be looking for the nearest highway overpass. Don’t imagine there are too many overpasses in South Dakota, though.
Both photos are from a Big Picture series on global extreme weather (photos 46 and 47). The bottom one is especially worth viewing in full size.