Baseball Size Hail Strikes Phillips County Kansas - July 26

Strong to severe thunderstorms erupted across parts of north central Kansas on Saturday afternoon, July 26, 2008. These storms formed in a very unstable airmass along a weak surface front as an upper level disturbance passed through the region. One storm in particular became quite a hail producer across Phillips County, Kansas, with reports of destructive hail up to baseball size in the community of Prairie View around 2:20 PM, breaking several windows out of homes in addition to other widespread hail damage.  

The radar reflectivity image below depicts the storm over western Phillips County at 2:09 PM. In this image we are actually looking into the storm at approximately 28,000 feet above ground level (AGL), with the radar itself located 69 miles northeast of Prairie View, near Blue Hill, Nebraska. The purple shading in the core of the storm shows very high levels of reflectivty around 70 decibels (dBZ), with values this high often a good indicator of hail within a storm.

More intriguing, however, is the long "spike" of reflectivity extending well to the southwest across parts of Norton and Sheridan counties. In fact, this "spike" is not a reflection of actual precipitation in the area, but instead is a classic example of a radar artifact known as a "Three-Body Scatter Spike", or TBSS. The presence of a TBSS almost always indicates that a storm contains large hail. In simple terms, a TBSS is caused by the radar beam hitting the hail aloft, scattering to the ground below, then scattering back upward, and finally being scattered once again by the hail aloft. The 3 scatterings illustrate the triple reflection, thus the term "three-body scatter spike".

For more information on a TBSS, please visit the following site: 

Below the radar image is a brief list of PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORTS from various sources.


515 PM CDT SAT JUL 26 2008  
.TIME...   ...EVENT...      ...CITY LOCATION...     ...LAT.LON
.DATE...   ....MAG....      ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE.
0223 PM     HAIL             PRAIRIE VIEW            39.83N 99.57W   
07/26/2008  E2.75 INCH       PHILLIPS           KS   LAW ENFORCEMENT   
0228 PM     HAIL             8 W PHILLIPSBURG        39.75N 99.47W   
07/26/2008  E1.50 INCH       PHILLIPS           KS   CO-OP OBSERVER    
0238 PM     HAIL             7 NW PHILLIPSBURG       39.82N 99.42W   
07/26/2008  E1.75 INCH       PHILLIPS           KS   PUBLIC            
0338 PM     HAIL             9 NE STOCKTON           39.53N 99.15W   
07/26/2008  E1.00 INCH       ROOKS              KS   LAW ENFORCEMENT   
            QUARTER SIZE HAIL   
0427 PM     HAIL             SIMPSON                 39.39N 97.93W   
07/26/2008  E0.75 INCH       MITCHELL           KS   LAW ENFORCEMENT   


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