Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Coffeyville Horror

On September 3, 1970 a monster descended on Coffeyville Kansas:

NCAR scientist Nancy Knight holds a hailstone that fell in Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1970.
The largest hailstone ever documented, it weighs 0.75 kilograms (1.67 pounds),
and spans 14.4 centimeters (5.67 inches). Source: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

That is one big hunk of ice. Until that day the big ice story in Coffeyville was the townfolk shooting up the Dalton Gang, killing four in "a hail of bullets" and putting Emmett Dalton on ice for fourteen years.

The Dalton Defenders Museum is home to a replica of the monster (the stone, not Emmett, he was pardoned)
See: Kansas Spring Break Gone Wild-Small towns are stranger than you think

From TexasEscapes comes the story of Ripley's mistakenly swallowing the story of a nine-pounder in Waco:
The World's Heaviest, Fastest and Most Beloved Hailstone
"I Can't Believe It's Not an Ice Cube"

by Luke Warm

Which ends with this suggestion to the citizens of Coffeyville:
Note: I have just two words for Coffeyville, Kansas: Hailstone Festival. Drinks could be chilled by hailstone replicas, and pea-sized colored hailstones could be thrown to the crowds below from women secured to the wings of vintage biplanes. Just let me have the Iced-Coffey concession.
The Coffeyville stone was surpassed by one that fell at Aurora Nebraska on June 22, 2003. From NOAA:
The largest hail associated with the Aurora supercell was confined to the northern portions of the town. The largest hailstone ultimately measured 7.0 inches (17.78 cm) in diameter, with an 18.75 inch (47.63 cm) circumference (Fig. 9). Since the hailstone struck a house roof in its descent and partially broke (survey by second author), an accurate weight of the hailstone was not possible. Property damage from the large hail was estimated at $500,000, with $1 million estimated in crop damage across Hamilton County (NCDC 2003). Large hail left craters in the ground up to 14.0 inches (35.56 cm) in diameter and 3.0 inches (7.62 cm) in depth in Aurora (NWS Hastings survey and UCAR).

The measured size of the Aurora hailstone exceeded the previous record of the Coffeyville, Kansas hailstone of 3 September 1970. In accordance with the National Climatic Data Center's (NCDC) Climate Extremes Committee, the Aurora, Nebraska hailstone of 22 June 2003 is now officially recognized as the largest hailstone, in terms of diameter and circumference, in United States history. The previous record of the Coffeyville, KS stone weighed 1.65 pounds (0.75 kg) with a diameter of 5.7 inches (14.48 cm) and circumference of 17.6 inches (44.70 cm) (UCAR). The Coffeyville hailstone still retains the U.S. record for maximum hailstone weight.

I am sure that over the course of human habitation of North America there were larger hailstones, probably pre-NCDC (and pre-refrigeration). Worldwide, India is the record holder.

Looking forward to this anniversary I got to thinking about protection for pedestrians during hailstorms and sure enough there are metal umbrellas:
United States Patent 3454022
or the more stylish
Vented metal umbrella
United States Patent 3345786

Here are a couple that would protect against pound-and-a-half chunks of ice falling on your head:
A Metal Umbrella by moniquz.

Metal umbrella by paulmorriss.

The one downside I can see is that you are walking around with what is basically a lightning rod, in your hand. Well it could be worse (click to enlarge):


Oldest known photograph of a tornado
Image ID: wea00206, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Collection
22 miles southwest of Howard, South Dakota

Photo Date:
1884 August 28

HT: Wicked Weather Pics