Three people sustained head injuries on Saturday afternoon near a lake west of Bismarck, North Dakota after a severe storm dropped hailstones as large as softballs. Serious injuries due to hail are rare in recent years — so much so that it's been 14 years since the last known fatality directly caused by hail in the United States.
The last person to die in the United States from a hailstone strike was Juan Oseguera, a teenager in Texas who sustained a fatal head wound in 2000 trying to move his truck out of the storm.
A hailstone slightly larger than a baseball — not an uncommon sight around the country during the spring and early summer months — can fall from a thunderstorm at more than 100 MPH according to NOAA, so it's a surprising fact that more people aren't injured or killed by hailstorms more often.
The reduction in hail injuries and fatalities is almost certainly a direct result of both better hailstorm detection methods and more ways to transmit severe thunderstorm warnings to the public. Up until the mid 2000s, the public had to rely on television, radio, or tornado sirens to warn them of impending severe weather. Warnings were available over the internet at the turn of the century but people had to actively search for them. Now when a warning is issued, countless apps and even the Wireless Emergency Alert System push them to people's smartphones the moment they're issued.
It's worth noting that more large hail is possible on Sunday across parts of the Midwest.
[Image via Google Maps]