Storm carrying massive ‘gorilla hail’ threatens parts of Kansas and Missouri


ST. LOUIS (AP) — Volatile weather was honing in on parts of Kansas and Missouri Wednesday night, with some storms bringing massive chunks of hail.

The National Weather Service just after 8 p.m. CDT said that the Kansas City metro area was under a severe thunderstorm warning for a storm that contained hail described as the size of apples, softballs or baseballs.

“If you are in this warning, get away from windows and shelter inside now!!!” the National Weather Service posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. The weather service said the storm had previously produced “softball-sized hail,” or 3.5-inch (8.9-centimeter) chunks.

Traffic came to a standstill for a time on part of Interstate 70 because of the falling hail, the National Weather Service said on X. Images of large hail chunks — with one bigger than the golf ball shown next to it — and at least one cracked windshield were shown on KSHB-TV.

The National Weather Service continued issuing tornado warnings Wednesday night in the areas around Topeka and moving to the north, while severe thunderstorm warnings were issued northeast of Kansas City in Missouri.

Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, said the predicted hail was deemed “gorilla hail” because it had the potential to be so big.

“Gorilla hail” is a term coined by Reed Timmer, a storm chaser who calls himself an extreme meteorologist, Sosnowski said. In this case, the term might fit: Some hail from north-central Kansas into north-central Missouri could be as big as a baseball.

“When you get up to tennis ball, baseball-sized or God forbid softball-sized, that can do a tremendous amount of damage, and if you get hit in the head, that could be fatal,” Sosnowski said.

Cars are especially vulnerable to damage, so Sosnowski encouraged people to try to find a place to park under a roof, if possible.

Beyond the hail, heavy rain is possible in the same corridor. The National Weather Service warned of a risk for flash flooding.

By Thursday, the storm moves to the east, forecasters said. The hail threat lessens, but heavy rain and high winds still are possible from northeastern Texas through central Missouri.

The biggest threat on Friday is for torrential rain — perhaps up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) in some spots — in a line from central Louisiana up through central Arkansas, Sosnowski said.


Associated Press reporter Lisa Baumann contributed from Bellingham, Washington.

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