‘This was the coolest thing’: Woman who found giant hailstone says she'll get 3-D copy of it from researchers

Both National Weather Service and insurance researchers will study the 5.7-inch hunk of ice that fell in Salado, Texas this week

SALADO, Texas – Gina Brown said she heard relentless pounding on the roof of her Salado, Texas, home for nearly 10 minutes Tuesday as storms tore through the area.

"Then it got completely silent, all at once, and then I came outside and started to try and survey the yard," she told FOX Weather on Friday. "(I) could not believe what I had seen."


Massive hailstones littered her yard, including one that was at least 5 inches around -- so big Brown had to do a double-take.

"It was so big, I actually thought it was a piece of Styrofoam," Brown said. "There’s a construction site next door to our house."

She posted a picture of the enormous ball of ice on social media. It went viral and caught the attention of both insurance and National Weather Service researchers, who urged her to preserve it for study.

Ian Giammanco, Ph.D., the lead research meteorologist at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, said he was eager to get a team down to do just that. His team arrived in Salado on Thursday night and took measurements and a 3-D laser scan of the stone.

"These things are not that common, and we want to make sure we can preserve them digitally for future study," Giammanco told FOX Weather on Friday.

Giammanco said the stone measured 5.7 inches in diameter at its largest point. That is a bit smaller than the largest hailstone on record in Texas. It fell last April in Hondo and had a diameter of 6.4 inches.

Giammanco said researchers will use a 3-D printer to create a replica of the hailstone which will be placed in a wind tunnel to study aerodynamics.


"For us at IBHS, it’s important for us to understand how we design building material to withstand hailstone impacts," he said.

Brown said she was told she’ll receive one of those 3-D copies of the hailstone.

"I’m telling you, this was the coolest thing I have ever experienced," she said.

Brown said she believes her home is in decent shape after the pelting, but the stones beat up a vehicle and a metal workshop in the backyard.