One year since the largest April tornado outbreak in Wisconsin history

By: Matt Hoffman Email
By: Matt Hoffman Email

Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of two EF-1 tornadoes that hit the Augusta area. It was part of the largest April tornado outbreak in Wisconsin history.

Unlike Tuesday's chilly temperatures, a year ago it was warm and muggy. The stage was set for an early season severe weather outbreak. Pretty much all the state was under a moderate risk for severe weather. Later that afternoon a particularly dangerous situation tornado watch was issued for most of the state.

A radar image of one of the super cells that formed in a line that day showed classic tornadic features. This is the storm that dropped the two Augusta twisters. You can see the hook. Right there is where the tornado was snapping trees.

This was the second tornado this storm dropped...the first one hit Dean Karow's farm. I caught up with him…to hear his memories of it all.

Karow was relaxing with his family watching a Brewer’s game when he noticed the winds picking up. “Well the neighbors across the field there, shed tin was flying, and it was like we aren't going outside so we kind of hunkered down and in a few seconds stuff was hitting the house."

Karow was hit by the stronger EF-1 tornado with winds of up to 105 mph. “It picked up the garage up and put it in the field. The only thing it could of taken the whole thing instead of leaving the door cause that smashed the car, the rear window and top of the car."

The Augusta twisters were just two of fifteen that touched down that day in the largest April outbreak in state history. There was an EF-3 in Merrill and an EF-2 in Adams County.

"When I saw the total destruction of the pictures and stuff it's like wow we had losses of buildings and stuff but we were lucky that there were no injuries or stuff in the area how powerful they can be," explained Karow.

The tornado that hit Karow's house was the earliest tornado in the calendar year to touch down in Eau Claire County. Here's a look at the paths and strengths of the 15 twisters. April 2011 would go on to produce a total 758 tornadoes and claim 360 lives nationwide.

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