Monster midnight hailstorm buries northeast Denver

A hailstorm around midnight on Thursday night gave residents of northeastern Denver, Colorado, a taste of winter, covering neighborhoods in white.

There was so much hail that it hadn't melted by sunrise on Friday. Aerial photos after daybreak Friday showed what looked like snow still covering a wide area. According to radar estimates, the largest hail fell from Erie International Airport to Buckley Air Force Base, crossing the northeastern part of the city.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Tony Laubach was storm chasing in the area and reported "an incredible night of severe weather."

The hail piled up to 6 inches deep, with drifts of 12 inches, bringing traffic to a standstill and sending residents scurrying for cover anywhere they could find it. The Stapleton and Central Park areas were pounded by baseball-sized hail while golf ball-sized hail pounded the Tower Road area.

Laubach became concerned that he might lose windows in this car.

"The moment I knew I was toast, I drove off the road to hide under a pine tree, which did save all my windshield and window glass," he explained.

An extreme hail hit northeast Denver, Colorado around midnight MDT Thursday into early Friday morning, May 31, 2024.

A 2.75-inch-diameter hailstone that fell in Denver County on Thursday night is preliminarily the largest on record for the county since 1950. Other larger hailstones have fallen in the metro area. The 5.25-inch-diameter stone that set the state record in 2023 fell 130 miles east of the Mile High City in Kirk, Colorado.

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi said on X that it was "the most destructive Denver area hailstorm since May 2017." That storm seven years ago was the worst natural disaster in Colorado state history. The graphic above shows the areas where hail was reported in both storms. The 2017 storm moved northeastward across the metro area while last night's storm moved to the southeast.