Size matters: Denver media needs new ways to describe the size of hail stones


Hail fire all this rough weather in the metro Aurora area is causing a storm of words. Namely, what word should you use to compare the size of hail stones?

This critical subject came to the forefront in the newsroom yesterday when I became the laughingstock of quickly aging twenty- and thirty-somethings who scoffed, nay, guffawed at my lede on a weather story where I compared the size of Monday’s hail stones to that of  shooter-marbles.

“Man, you’re really dating yourself,” quipped on reporter, who will be surprised to find soon that all the tires on his car need air.

“Grapes,” he told all of us yesterday in defense of his bent against marbles. “Hail stones that size are like grapes.”
I’m sure you can see where this is going. Which grapes: Concord? Chardonnay? Thompson Seedless?, you young little wiseacre. Shooters, or bowlers for those even older than I, are a uniform constant. Grapes can be anything from June peas, those grown too late in the season, to an Italian prune, the ones that plump up in wet years.

All this may seem like overkill, but we’re talking weather here, and Coloradans take their weather very seriously. Besides needing a good standard for clarity, with so much goddam hail around here, we really need to be able to mix up a little running what is essentially the same story just about every day.

So when today’s hail stones arrive, as we all hope/dread, I’ve created what I’m sure will soon become the worldwide uniformity standard for the measurement of hail stones in artless stories.

Hail Stoners:

1. Booger-sized hail stones: About the size of a grain of Perlite. Old timers call this sleet, but weather people have ratings to worry about.

2. Car mat pebbles: You know, the ones under the gas peddle that don’t vacuum up very well. Smaller than what was formerly known as pea-sized hail.

3. Viagra tablet: Formerly, “pea-sized” hail. Slightly irregular, about the size of a pea.

4. Dingleberry: Those little balls of poop that get stuck in the fur of your dog’s rear end. Formerly known as “marble sized” hail. No, not shooters.

5. Malted milk ball: Truly a world standard.

6. Rocky Mountain Oyster: These are the ones you wanna run from.

7. Sheep eyeball: Look it up. Formerly, “shooter-marble-sized” hail stone.

8.  Key lime: Formerly known as “ping-pong-ball-sized.” About the size of a ping-pong ball

9. Meatball: Italian, not Swedish. From a neighborhood joint that still makes its own homemade noodles and sauce from premium tomatoes. Maybe a little fresh grated Regiano on top.

10. Cupcake: Not the ones with so much frosting that it’s just stupid, but a little frosting. Formerly, “baseball-sized-hail-stones.”

11. Dollar Store Water Balloon: Only because we’re getting too many food references here. About the size of a grapefruit.

12. Cantaloupe: How visually cool is it to say this even in jest? “The city was besieged by cantaloupe-sized hail stones.”

13. Wrecking ball: One size fits all.

— Editor Dave Perry