- There were 250 reports of hail in the U.S. on Sunday. (NWS/Storm Prediction Center)
Spring is not awakening quietly this year. Over the weekend, nature gave the U.S. two shotgun barrels’ worth of hail, a possibly lethal dose in some parts. It was more of an annoyance in D.C., which saw hail on both Saturday and Sunday.
The maelstrom began on Sunday as severe storms ratcheted up over Iowa and Kansas and swerved into Missouri and Wisconsin. Winds howled along at 80 m.p.h. in parts of Kansas, where storms swept into towns “as fast as you can power down a computer,” according to one resident of Olathe. Sounds of glass smashing mixed in with the ricocheting noises of golf ball-sized hail dinging off the ground. (That wasn’t the end of Kansas’ dance with hail: Ice chunks 2 inches in diameter fell today as a “gustnado,” or weak, not-quite tornado, swirled through Perry. A video of that is posted below.)
Dark clouds unleashed two rounds of hail in southern Wisconsin on Sunday. The first sortie came during the early afternoon in the form of a fast, heavy downpour of pebble-sized ice granules that quickly turned the ground white. Then later in the day chunkier, baseball-sized hail pounded the streets. One vehicle traveling on a highway swerved and was hit by another car, killing a passenger; police have said hail or ice on the roadway might have caused the crash.
D.C. got its first taste of the stinging precipitation on Saturday during the bottom of the fourth inning of the Nationals’ game against the Braves.
An unusual “hail delay” was announced, but the Nationals went on to beat the Braves 6-3. (Then lose the following day by 9 runs.) The city got just the faintest lick of ice Sunday night during the thunderstorm that rapidly swept over the region around 9:30 p.m. One storm watcher reported seeing hail the size of small gumballs (0.75 inches) in Mount Pleasant.
So will D.C. get a respite from hail for a couple days? Maybe not, says ABC7 meteorologist Brian van de Graaff. The storm likely to move through D.C. during tomorrow's early-morning rush hour has the potential to drop hail. The primary threat will come from damaging winds. It could even spawn tornadoes, although the National Weather Service says that would occur on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
And here's what a gustnado looks like: