Accurately measuring hail can be difficult, especially when a ruler or tape measure is not available, but using common household items can help in determining the exact size of a hailstone.
The National Weather Service (NWS) encourages people to compare hailstones next to round objects, such as coins, so that they can determine the exact size of the hail in a picture without the hail sitting next to a ruler.
However, some round objects may not be of much help. Objects such as marbles, hen eggs, tea cups and grapefruits all vary in size and are not good comparisons for accurately measuring hail.
Here are some common, every day items that can be used to help accurately measure hail without the use of a ruler:
Credit cards and drivers licenses
Two of the most common objects that people carry with them wherever they go are their drivers license and a credit card.
Regardless of what company made the credit card or what state issued the drivers license, both are exactly the same size, measuring 3.370 inches long and 2.125 inches tall. This gives people an exact and consistent way to measure hail.
However, people taking pictures of hail next to their credit card or drivers license should make sure to block out any private information to prevent identity theft.
A safer alternative can be to use a gift card as many of them are the same size and do not display any private information.
Almost everyone has access to a cell phone just by reaching in his/her pocket, but comparing hail to the size of a cell phone can be tricky.
While using a cell phone can be a quick comparison, every cell phone has different dimensions, making them inconsistent to use for comparing to hail.
However, if you take a picture of hail next to a cell phone and explain the type of cell phone it is, people can use this extra information to estimate the size of the hail.
Another common object that can help to accurately estimate hail size is a soda can.
The standard size for a 12 ounce can of soda in North America is 4.83 inches high with a diameter of 2.13 inches at the can's lid.
Not only is the lid of a soda can a circle, making it an easy comparison for hail, but it is also the same size as a pool ball which is one of the suggested comparisons to use on the NWS hail size comparison chart.
With cans of soda being more common than pool balls, they can be a convenient replacement for measuring hail around 2 inches in diameter.
Extremely large hailstones are not always round, making them more difficult to measure even without the use of a ruler or tape measure.
In this case, people looking to accurately measure a huge hailstone should put the hail in a sealed bag and place it in a freezer until a ruler or measuring tape is available.