Weekend Hail Injuries

Around 7:00 PM on Saturday, July 5, 2014 three individuals suffered head injuries near the Heart Butte Dam associated with large hail from a severe thunderstorm.  The largest hail stones were in the baseball to softball sized range with the largest stones near 4.25 inches in diameter.  Hailstones that large falling from a severe thunderstorm would be falling at a rate of near 100 mph when they hit the ground.

Location of the Heart Butte Dame and associated Lake Tschida


Hail injuries are infrequent and hail deaths are very rare in the United States.  The last known death due to injuries associated with hail was in Texas back in 2000.  Texas was also the location of the most hail injuries in recent years when on May 5, 1995 during a Mayfest celebration in Fort Worth, around 10,000  people were caught outdoors when 4 inch diameter hail fell on the event injuring at least 200 people, with approximately 60 individuals requiring hospitalization.

Fortunately, with advanced warning and usually quickly available shelter locations, injuries and deaths from hail are the exception rather than the rule, but with the wide open spaces in North Dakota and our quickly changing weather, invariably sometimes such potential tragedies will occur.  A hailstone traveling at 100 mph is close to what a major league pitcher throws a baseball, giving an example of how easily injuries can occur, especially when striking the head.  An example of injury potential can be observed in this picture of a jogger caught in a hail storm in Iowa in April, 2010.


Courtesy KCCI-TV

Below are some pictures taken from the hail event in southwestern North Dakota on Saturday evening.

Bismarck Storm Hail
Courtesy of WDAY-TV


A few hours later another supercell that developed in Saskatchewan, moved across southwestern Manitoba then into northern North Dakota.  It first struck the area around Maida just after midnight.  The storm report from the National Weather Service in Grand Forks is in the image below:

Storm Report
Storm Report from National Weather Service Grand Forks (FGF)


That cell pushed east southeasterly and eventually weakened some as it moved into northwestern Minnesota.  Some pictures and credits from this event are presented in the following pictures.

Courtesy of the Valley News Facebook page.
4" Hail Stones
Courtesy of the Grand Forks (FGF) National Weather Service Twitter page.

Daryl Ritchison