Perhaps the greatest drama came from the hailstones, shown on Twitter as they clattered onto pavements and skylights and windshields.
Hailstones glittered in palms in online photographs. Some had coins alongside to show their size. One video showed hailstones skittering across a sidewalk, and another showed them bouncing down a Metro station escalator.
In some spots, hailstones were likened in size to peas or pebbles. Hailstones also fell on Capitol Hill and on the Mall, where the icy chunks were described as more than an inch in diameter.