Record hail stone may have set other marks as well, officials say

The record-setting hail stone that fell in southwest Wichita on September 15 may well have established other marks had it been weighed and measured properly in a more timely manner, weather officials say.

The stone that fell near Pawnee and 119th Street wasn’t measured until 15 hours later. While the family that found it kept it in a freezer, it wasn’t stored properly to prevent deterioration, weather officials have said. Stones can begin to vaporize even in a freezer.

The stone had a diameter of 7.75 inches when it fell, but it had shrunk 1.25 inches by the time weather officials arrived to study it, said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist for the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.

The stone’s original circumference “could have easily been greater than 18 inches, if not 19,” Hayes said.

The state record for circumference continues to be held by the Coffeyville hail stone that fell on Sept. 3, 1970. It had a circumference of 17.5 inches.

That hail stone also is the heaviest on record, weighing 1.67 pounds. The Wichita hail stone weighed 1.1 pounds when it was assessed. But Hayes said it’s quite possible the stone was heavier than the Coffeyville stone when it first fell, and lost a significant portion of its mass in the 15 hours before it was weighed.