Korva Discovers That Hailstones Come In ‘Grapefruit’ And ‘Softball’ Sizes; Diatribe About Clichés Averted

We were prepared to issue another rant about clichés this morning after hearing during the 6 a.m. ET Newscast that hailstones ranging in size from “grapefruits to softballs” fell in Dallas on Monday. Can’t we find some other comparisons?

We were also prepared to complain that grapefruits and softballs are basically the same size, so there really wasn’t a “range.”

But, as she sometimes is, Korva was on to something. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has posted a “traditional object-to-size conversion for assessment and translation of severe hail reports.”

Based on the diameters (in inches), here are NOAA’s conversions:

0.50 … marble or moth ball
0.75 … penny
0.88 … nickel
1.00 … quarter

1.25 … half dollar
1.50 … walnut or ping pong ball
1.75 … golf ball
2.00 … hen egg

2.50 … tennis ball
2.75 … baseball
3.00 … tea cup
4.00 … grapefruit
4.50 … softball

Thus, it appears there is official paperwork that blesses weather-worn clichés about hail. And as you see, there’s official word confirming there is a (slight) range between grapefruits and softballs.

However, the fight against clichés will continue. Previous posts:

No, Virginia, It ‘Tisn’t The Season
Let’s Toss ‘Hat In The Ring’ Into The Cliché Round File
We Wave A Lot; Perhaps We Should Stem The Tide

Jonathan Kern’s thoughts about cliches are also worth rereading:

Cliches and shopworn phrases: “This decision comes in the wake of a ruling last week,” “the long-simmering dispute has provoked a storm of controversy,” “investors have been taken for a wild ride by the roller coaster stock market,” “public school teachers are leaving in droves” – these are just a few examples of the hundreds of modular phrases journalists use to write with a minimum of effort. It’s understandable: the reporters and news writers are under deadline pressure, and these are the phrases that spring to mind. The editor’s job is not to let them get away with it.

(“Memmos;” April 12, 2016)

April 12, 2016

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