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Thu Apr 30, 2020, 10:43 PM

Meteorologists Describe 'Gargantuan Hail' From Epic Storm in Argentina [View all]

George Dvorsky
Today 4:37PM

A “gargantuan” hailstone that fell in Argentina in 2018.
Image: Victoria Druetta

Two years ago, a severe storm in Argentina produced hailstones reaching 9 inches wide, prompting meteorologists to propose an entirely new term: “gargantuan hail.” Scientists don’t fully understand how such enormous balls of ice can take shape, but the 2018 storm is providing some tantalizing new clues.

New research in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society describes a supercell storm that struck Argentina on February 8, 2018. The storm is notable in that it produced unusually large hailstones, the biggest of which measured 9.3 inches (23.7 cm) in diameter.

The storm is also noteworthy because it struck the densely populated city of Villa Carlos Paz in Córdoba Province. This resulted in numerous sightings and images posted to social media, allowing the authors of the new paper, Matthew Kumjian and Rachel Gutierrez from Pennsylvania State University, to chronicle and study this extreme weather event in detail.

Currently, the U.S. National Weather Service uses the terms “sub-severe,” “severe,” and “significantly severe” to describe the size of hailstones. More informally, some scientists use the term “giant” to describe hail larger than 3.9 inches (10 cm). Kumjian and Gutierrez are now asking to have this meteorological guitar amp cranked to 11: They propose the term “gargantuan hail” to describe the “upper extreme of hail sizes,” as they write in their paper, specifically referring to ice stones larger than 6 inches (15 cm).


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