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Huge Hail Hammers Hawaii

Radar image of the severe weather hitting Hawaii.
Radar image of the severe weather hitting Hawaii. (Image credit: NWS Honolulu)

A freak hailstorm pelted Hawaii with golf-ball to baseball-sized chunks of hail today (March 9).

The hailstorm was "unprecedented for Hawaii," National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Tom Birchardtold the Associated Press. Some of the hailstones in Honolulu were up to 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter, according to the NWS. On Twitter and Facebook, pictures of the jagged hailstones were posted throughout the day. A waterspout — like a tornado over the water — was also reported today.

"I have never seen severe storms over Hawaii," tweeted AccuWeather.com meteorologist Henry Marguisty. "Storms with large hail and heavy rains are more like storms in the South."

The hailstorm was caused by cold weather in the upper two-thirds of the atmosphere that kept the rain from melting as it fell to the ground.

Hawaii has battled heavy rain all week. Downpours have forced schools to close and caused sewers to overflow. A brown water advisory is in effect for the entire island of Oahu, according to news reports. Flash floods have been reported today in Honolulu, with water up to several feet deep on some roads, according to the NWS. The heavy rain triggered a landslide near the Kauai Marriott hotel, blocking a road.

Severe weather and thunderstorms are forecast for Hawaii tonight as a strong low-pressure system sweeps across the islands. A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect overnight.

You can follow OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel on Twitter: @btisrael. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.