Hail hits hard, lots of Wisconsin recovering from damage

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Large hailstone from Racine on May 12th. Photo by Allen.

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The impact of Monday’s storms is still being felt across southeast Wisconsin this week. High winds, heavy rain (over 5” in some parts), and tennis ball sized hail were all part of a series of storms which thankfully did not include tornadoes, though we came close!

Viewers sent us fantastic photos from that day and night, the majority of which included incredible hailstones. So let’s take a closer look at what a tennis ball sized (2.5” diameter) hailstone can do.

While 2” hail fell over Bohners Lake TWICE, the bigger 2.5” hail reports came from the Racine area. A tennis ball sized hailstone contains about 4.5 ounces of ice. Melted down, two of these hailstones would give you more than a full glass of water! Of course you wouldn’t want to drink it since more than just water gets trapped into the ice.

Cut in half, a hailstone this large usually shows concentric rings much like a tree stump. These rings tell you how many trips the stone made up and down in a thunderstorm before growing so large the rising updraft winds could no longer hold it aloft.

Set on a scale the hailstone would weigh in around 0.3 pounds or nearly the weight of a baseball. Simply tossed from a tall building it would reach a top speed of 80mph! This can vary, since an irregularly shaped hailstone may catch more air to slow it down. On the other, hand it may be falling under a strong “downdraft” where rapidly sinking air would give it a tail wind pushing it faster.

In major league baseball, players have been seriously injured when a pitch hits them in the face or head. Now imagine a hailstone with the weight of a baseball, traveling as fast as a pitch, but with a harder surface. Ouch!

This is why FOX6 meteorologists spend time cutting into programming to alert the public. Sure, a person can look outside and see that it’s raining. But what you cannot see is whether or not hail large enough to knock a person out cold is going to start falling next.

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