Historic Hail of Near Biblical Proportions
As this is hail season across North America, and BluSky is in the restoration and roofing business, we thought it might be interesting to explore the world history of very large hail events to see how they compare with a few of the largest recorded hail storms in the United States.
Death by Hail
Although rare, hail can and has killed. According to Jerry Shaw in his July. 8, 2016 article for Newsmax, 1,000 English army soldiers were killed when a hail storm of near biblical proportions struck April 13, 1360, during an invasion of France. The invasion took place during the Hundred Years War and according to History.com, the day was recorded as “Black Monday,” with an eyewitness writing about the event as “a foul day, full of mist and hail, so that men died on horseback.”
A team of experts from National Geographic was sent to examine as many as 200 skeletons found in a lake in Roopkund, India. Dylan Thuras writes in Atlas Obscura that the bones date to about A.D. 850 and the skulls of the victims showed that they died from bone crushing blows to their heads caused by “blunt, round objects about the size of cricket balls.” The team concluded hail delivered a swift but likely terrifying death to these unfortunate souls.
Thuras also writes, in 1939 more than 200 people were killed during a violent hail storm in China. And According to Shaw, in 1986, hailstones weighing up to 2 pounds caused the deaths of 92 people in Gopalganj, Bangladesh.
Deaths from hail in the U.S. are very rare, but according to The Weather Channel, hail did indeed kill a pizza deliveryman in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2000 which was the last confirmed death caused directly by hail.
Very Large Hail
We have explored death by hail. But, what about the largest hail recorded? First, experts say this is not an exact science, because by the time individuals arrive to collect samples, some melting is likely to occur. With this said, Stephanie Pappas, writing for Live Science Contributor, July 12, 2010, believes she may have identified the largest hail stones to have fallen from the sky in the U.S.
“On June 22, 2003, chunks of ice the size of softballs rained down of Aurora, Neb. One, a jagged behemoth with a 7-inch diameter, entered the record books as the largest U.S. hailstone ever,” writes Pappas.
Although supersized, it pales in comparison to the largest hailstone since discovered in the U.S., which was found in Vivian, South Dakota, on July 23, 2010. This nearly volleyball-size hailstone tipped the scale at a hair under an earth-walloping 2 pounds, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
What Causes Hail to Form?
According to NASA, “Hail forms when thunderstorm updrafts are strong enough to carry water droplets well above the freezing level. This freezing process forms a hailstone, which can grow as additional water freezes onto it. Eventually, the hailstone becomes too heavy for the updrafts to support it and it falls to the ground.”
Experts say that devastating killer hail is a result of size, hardness and velocity. But what about hail described in the Bible? Let’s have a little hypothetically fun exploring hail of biblical proportions. One might think that the Vivian, South Dakota, hailstone made it there, but in truth, it is not even close.
Hail of Biblical Proportions
In the Bible, Revelation 16:17-21 speaks of the coming of an unprecedented hailstorm that will occur after the pouring of the seventh vial judgment. Revelation 16:21 states, “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent…”
We no longer measure weight in “talents” so BluSky had to look it up. According to Wane Croley, writing in a prophecyproof.org article, the best guess we have for converting a talent into pounds, is somewhere between 75 and 100 pounds.
Using the more conservative 75 pound biblical hailstones, Matthew Kneisler, a highly regarded aeronautical engineer, crunched the numbers and came up with the following:
- These hailstones would be nearly 20 inches in diameter
- And would fall at a speed of 370 miles per hour when they reached sea level
Holy hail storm, Batman!
Learn how BluSky approaches hail and storm damage restoration.