Cricket balls, golf balls or icy peanuts?

WITH large numbers of Tamworth residents nursing bruises and cleaning up glass and roof damage after Monday’s freak storm, were the “cricket-ball sized” hailstones that reportedly fell a reality or merely urban legend?

Immediately after the 20-minute storm abated, social media and news sites went crazy with reports of enormous hailstones denting cars and residents’ heads alike.

However most images seen by The Leader were at best described as golf-ball size still big enough to make a sizeable dent, but not quite the monsters reported.

South Tamworth resident Monique Atkins reported cricket ball-sized hailstones but said she was too worried about taking a bump on the head to pop out and take photos to prove it.

Debbie Mann said the stones that fell in her Tamworth backyard resembled “wonky golf balls,” while Taminda machinery hire company Monitor Industries’ employees got down with a ruler and actually measured the hail that fell in their workshop.

“The boys were out the back and said the biggest hailstone was 46mm across. Not quite a cricket ball but still pretty decent sized,”  general manager Ben Joyce said.

A Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson said the hail that fell across Tamworth was not spherical-shaped, but stones made up of smaller hailstones that had been partially melted, tumbled together and refrozen into lumpy clusters.

“They looked like big icy chocolate-coated peanut clusters,” Tamworth resident Tara Quinn reported.

For those interested in the facts behind the hail, science website Hyperphysics reported that terminal velocity depended on the size and shape of the hailstone falling, with spherical stones falling faster than their clumpy counterparts.

That means a hailstone measuring just 3cm across falls at 33.4 metres/second and can reach a top speed of 120km/h.

Which explains why so many Tamworth businesses and residents are still cleaning up smashed glass and roof damage after Monday’s summer storm – no matter what the size.

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