Severe thunderstorms dropped hailstones as much as 13.5 cm (5.33 inches) in diameter on Burkburnett, Texas, on May 22, 2020, the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed. It caused extensive damage to roofs and cars, and left craters in the ground.
Residents took to social media to share images of the hailstones, including a photo of an 8-year-old holding one of the large stones.
One of the biggest ice chunks was first measured by a broadcast meteorologist from a Wichita Falls station at 13.5 cm (5.33 inches).
"I went down there to survey the tornado tracks and was especially interested in what happened west of Bowie," said Rick Smith, the warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS in Norman, Okla.
"I held at least two 12.7 cm (5 inches) hailstones in my hand yesterday, so it was legit," he added.
"One of the local [meteorologists] went to their house Friday night at like 03:00 or 03:30 UTC (22 or 22:30 LT), they measured it, they gave us what we thought was a reliable report. By the time I looked at it yesterday, it had sublimated a bit."
The hailstorm caused significant damage to vehicles and roofs. "I visited one home where a 10 cm (4 inches) hailstone made it all the way through the bathroom ceiling and onto the bathroom floor," Smith stated. "I was standing in their bathroom looking up at the ceiling."
The stones also left craters in the ground, with a number of residents reporting such in their yards.
— Fawn (@Epley35) May 23, 2020
Another home had a 4 inch stone come through their bathroom ceiling! pic.twitter.com/uqsUdy1ZP8
— Rick Smith (@ounwcm) May 24, 2020
Sports photographer Chris Hanks shared this photo courtesy of his grand niece. That is huge hail that fell in Burkburnett earlier today! Burkburnett is just north of Wichita Falls. pic.twitter.com/THSVZRPnOx
— Dan Henry (@Fox4Weather) May 23, 2020
Smith noted that the number of large hailstones recovered was impressive– the biggest stones usually fall among a much greater quantity of smaller hailstones.
"There’s no doubt there were more holes in roofs, more hail damage than we even know about. This was not just one five-inch stone, it was probably multiple four to five-inch stones. That kind of hail is rare, but to get that volume of it is incredibly rare," he remarked.
Featured image credit: Brent Toni Marie Scott
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