Looking back at the long track tornado from May 22nd

By: Matt Hoffman Email
By: Matt Hoffman Email

One year ago today a massive storm spawned dozens of tornados across the U.S., including several right here in Western Wisconsin. A pair of tornadoes hit monroe county that evening. One tore through Sparta, while the other touched down just north of Tomah and was on the ground for nearly an hour tearing through 3 counties.

The final tornado of the day would be the most long-lived touching down about a mile that direction then making its way across I-94 here for 37 miles through Monroe, Juneau and Wood County. Following touch down at 5:15pm the tornado quickly strenghtened to an EF-2 after crossing I-94. The home here on dolphin road was significanty damaged by 120 mph winds. The tornado continued east northeast doing more EF-2 damage on county road f just to the east of finley in northern juneau county.

"We got the call and came up here after it went through." Gervase Thompson is the director of emergency management for Juneau County. He put out the call to all available emergency personnel. "Trees were laying right on highway 80 and at that point of course you become concerned." He turned on to County Road F to find the devastation that the tornado had caused. "We could see damage to structures as far as garages, and barns, and this facility here was probably the worst damaged of all of them."

The facility was Cranberry Creek. Many of the cranberry grower's buildings were either heavily damaged or destroyed. Dozens of people showed up the next day to clean up all the debris that had been scattered through the bogs. "The people in this county and surrounding areas have a tendancy to look out for themselves and help each other in a disaster and the response was overwhelming, but not suprising cause that's how people are here," says Thompson.

Just down the road the Cross family said it sounded like a freight train coming through as the ran for cover as they saw the twister take the swingset. "Oh my gosh it was a mess. Everything was a mess. The barn was gone. The garage was gone. Cars were trapped underneath," says Danielle Cross who survived the twister. A year later everything is basically back to normal but scars can still be seen everywhere.

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