Some unfortunate Minnesotans had their homes and cars (and heads!) damaged by hail Tuesday evening. Bummer. I hope all repairs and recovery go smoothly.
Most of the weather reports I heard last night kept to the standard American sports scale of measurement – marble sized to golf ball to baseball to softball. That’s assuming you consider marbles a sport.
But I wonder – is that our entire athletico-spherical vocabulary? What about handballs? Raquetballs? I’ve never heard a weather forecaster try to parse relative hardness of hail, though it does vary. If your job is to encourage people to take cover, you would naturally go with the most impressive choice and baseballs and billiard balls are more motivational than tennis balls.
A lacrosse ball is smaller around (7.5 inches) than a baseball (9 inches), could offer a useful distinction, but you never hear meteorologists talk about “lacrosse ball sized hail’. I assume In England and India a handy frame of reference would be “Hail the size of cricket balls.” Try that over here and people would be confused. Cricket balls? Aren’t they very, very tiny?
Not everyone follows sports, so sometimes we use the vegetable scale, starting with pea sized hail and going to … well, that’s about it. I guess we’re just not a vegetable-loving people. Has anyone ever reported brussel sprout sized hail? Hail as large as neatly trimmed radishes? And what about the rest of the grocery store? Hail the size of eggs? Lemons? There’s a report on this page of hail as big as walnuts. Has any spot on Earth ever received Personal Watermelon sized hail, and if so, did anyone live to tell about it?
Not that all hail is perfectly round. In fact, it can be flattened and oblong, but I’m still waiting to hear about a storm that dropped “hail the size of Vienna Fingers” or “cell phone sized hail”.
Then there’s the monetary scale. Dime, penny, nickel, quarter and even half dollar sized hail have been noted, but why stop there? What about “hail as destructive as bundled sub-prime mortgages”? I would run from “Bernie Madoff hail”, and cower at a report that claimed: “hail just swept through Eden Prairie like a mammoth Ponzi scheme, leaving no one untouched.”
What’s the biggest hail you’ve seen? And how would you standardize the measurment?