This week in weather history: Baseball size hail in Maquoketa

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 3:22 PM CDT
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MAQUOKETA, Iowa (KWQC) - September 18 will mark the 20 year anniversary of a damaging hail storm in Maquoketa.

A severe thunderstorm rolled into Jackson County on September 18, bringing damaging winds and very large hail.

The largest of the hailstones were baseball size, 2.75 inches in diameter.

In addition to the large hail, the storm produced 70 to 80 mph winds.

There was a 20 minute period where pea to golf ball size hail fell in the city, damaging nearly 1,000 new and used vehicles at a car dealership.

The owner of the car dealership was quoted as saying the cars looked like they had chicken pox.

The damage in Maquoketa was estimated to cost $20 million.

Hail forms inside a thunderstorm when the updraft (warm, moist air that rises into the thunderstorm) lifts frozen water droplets high up into the clouds where temperatures are well below freezing.

The ice will continue to layer up as the wind lifts the ice higher and higher into the cloud.

Eventually the hailstone becomes too heavy and falls from the cloud, to the ground.

The stronger the updraft, the longer the ice stays up in the cloud, which leads to a larger hailstone.

Hail size can be as little as a pea, to as large as a softball or grapefruit.

The largest hailstone ever recorded in the United States was in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2019. The hailstone was eight inches in diameter, weighing almost two pounds.