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Hail stone
Supposed 8-inch hail stone that fell in Vivian, S.D., in July 2010. If verified it would be a new world record. (Courtesy photo)

The most popular place in tiny Vivian, S.D., Tuesday was no doubt the Coffee Cup Fuel Stop.

There, inside the walk-in freezer, a team from the National Weather Service was measuring and weighing a big chunk of ice -- a hailstone that fell in a devastating storm last Friday.

The weather team's official conclusions may not be known until late this week. But it appears the hailstone that ranch hand Leslie Scott retrieved will be deemed the largest hailstone recorded in U.S. history.

It may push aside the current recordholder: a hailstone that fell June 22, 2003, in Aurora, Neb., and that now is preserved in a freezer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Dave Hintz, a meteorologist with the Aberdeen National Weather Service office, said Vivian's 130 residents would like to make a cast of the humongous hailstone to display in the town, which is 30 miles south of Pierre.

But Hintz said local residents also are still talking about the damage the fierce storm caused.

Hailstones broke through roofs, leaving fist-size holes in interior ceilings. They smashed through windshields, causing at least five injuries in cars stranded along I-90.

"I've got 19 holes in my roof. Three of them go all the way through my ceiling," said Lisa Patrick, manager of the Coffee Cup. "And it wasn't just my house; it was every house in town."

The hailstone retrieved by Scott was bigger before he got it safely secured in a working freezer. He figures it lost about 3 inches before electricity was restored several hours later.

Scott said he picked up the hailstone because of its unusual "spider" legs, not because of its size.

"If I knew it might be a record, I would have looked for a bigger one. There was lots bigger ones than the one I got," he said. "My mother seen one as big as a football, she claims."

More than anything else, Scott said he's glad no one in town was injured.

Meanwhile, said meteorologist Hintz, "It's amazing how much interest one piece of ice can garner."



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