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Ian M. Giammanco, Tanya M. Brown, Rosemarie G. Grant, Douglas L. Dewey, Jon D. Hodel, and Robert A. Stumpf


Throughout historical literature anecdotal or visual observations have been used to describe the hardness property of hailstones (e.g., hard, soft, slushy). A unique field measurement device was designed and built to apply a compressive force to the point of fracture on hailstones in the field. The device uses a pistol-grip clamp to apply a compressive load to a hailstone and integrates a fast-response load cell and associated data acquisition components to measure the applied force through the point of fracture. The strain rate applied to the stone is fast enough to produce a brittle failure, and the peak compressive force is appropriately scaled by the cross-sectional area to produce a compressive stress value. When compared to an Instron universal testing machine (UTM), the field measurement device exhibited a low bias induced by measurement hardware sampling limits. When a low-pass filter was applied to the Instron data to replicate the hardware properties of the field measurement device, good agreement was found for compressive force tests performed on laboratory ice spheres, and it was clear the device was capturing a relative measure of strength. The mean compressive stress for natural hail was similar to that of pure ice spheres, but individual thunderstorm events exhibited variability. Laboratory ice spheres also showed significant variability, which argues for large sample sizes when testing any material for impact resistance.

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