Hail Storm Season Begins in the Midwest

Spring in Chicago means a lot of nice things, including warmer weather and baseball. Unfortunately, spring also indicates the beginning of the hail season. Some central and southern Plain states have already seen severe weather outbreaks.

Storms with high winds and hail have moved into central and northeast Kansas, prompting tornado warnings and injuring at least two people in Republic County.

The storms passed through Ellsworth, Lincoln and Saline counties, where ping pong- to baseball-sized hail and a funnel cloud were reported.

Forecasters say a severe weather outbreak is possible Tuesday with powerful, long-track tornadoes and enormous hail predicted in some central and southern Plains states.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says the most dangerous weather is predicted for a 55,000-square-mile area stretching from northern Oklahoma to southern Nebraska, including the Oklahoma City area.

The largest hailstones in the Chicago area fell just last summer when 4.75-inch-diameter hail (larger than a softball) crashed to the ground during a severe thunderstorm June 10, 2015, causing damage to automobile windshields and roofing structures.

Other large hail reports from the Chicago area include 4-inch-diameter stones June 8, 1981, in Kankakee, and May 12, 2000, in Yorkville. There is a report of 6-inch hail April 23, 1961, in Kankakee County, but there is uncertainty whether that was the hail diameter or the depth on the ground.

The largest hailstone ever reported in the U.S. fell July 23, 2010, in Vivian, S.D. Characterized as cantaloupe-size, the stone measured 8 inches in diameter.