Satellite Imagery Captures Hail Damage in South Dakota

Severe storms often scar the land that they move over and in some cases this damage is so severe that it can be seen through satellite imagery. This was the case in South Dakota in late June when hail storms swept through South Dakota damaging farmland. Not only can the scars be seen in satellite imagery, but the damage changed the land’s composition enough to create a noticeable temperature difference between the damaged and undamaged land!

Hail and wind can both be efficient at damaging crops such as the corn and soybeans found South Dakota. This makes the damage path easy to see, since the damaged vegetation will no longer color the landscape green like the healthy vegetation does, as noted by researcher Jordan Bell who works with NASA’s Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center here in Huntsville. Bare soil also heats up more easily than soil with healthy vegetation, causing the temperature difference.

The damage pictured above was produced by two storms that rolled in late June, one on the 27th and the other on the 29th. Hailstones as large as 4 inches in diameter – about the size of a grapefruit – were reported. A hailstone of this size can weigh over 150 grams and can fall at speeds of 100mph, causing significant damage.

South Dakota is no stranger to this kind of severe weather. The largest hailstone recorded in US history was reported in Vivian, South Dakota back in 2010. The last time hail damage similar to what occured a few weeks ago was experienced in this region the land took about 6 weeks to recover.