Luigi Bombicci, a mineralogist from Bologna, Italy, believed that hail could be prevented. In 1880, his theory of “spherohedron” described the hailstone’s process of crystallization and preventing hail development with sound.

In 1896, Albert Steiger, mayor of Windisch-Feistritz, Austria, made the first attempt to defeat hail with the force of sound and did so by using a locomotive smokestack.

He packed it with black powder and directed the stack into a thunderstorm. Mayor Steiger professed that hail no longer would fall on his fields and cannons were accepted. Another glance at anti-hail cannon technology in tomorrow’s column.