Tornadoes strike Wisconsin for the first time this year

By: Matt Hoffman Email
By: Matt Hoffman Email

A manic Monday in the weather world this week across the Upper Midwest. Severe weather hit several states hard with damaging winds, heavy rain, and tornadoes including here in Wisconsin.

A line of severe storms came through southern and central Wisconsin Monday night touching down six tornadoes in the state. Up until then, Wisconsin had yet to see a tornado. That makes 2014, the 6th latest start to the tornado season in Wisconsin. Here’s a breakdown of the Wisconsin tornadoes.

Two tornadoes struck Platteville, WI between about 10:45 and 10:50 p.m. One of the twisters touched down west of town and tore through the UW-Platteville campus. There was extensive damage done to buildings and to the stadium on campus. After four miles, the tornado lifted on the southeast side of town. The tornado was rated an EF-2 with estimated winds of 120 mph and had a max width of a football field. The second tornado hit the north-side of town. It was a “high-end” EF-1 tornado with max winds of 105 mph. It was a brief tornado, on the ground for ½ mile, and had a max width of 50 yards. Damage to trees and a roof torn off an apartment complex were noted. Below is a look at the track these tornadoes took through the town provided from the La Crosse National Weather Service.

Here’s some damage pictures from around the UW-Platteville campus from that EF-2 tornado also from the La Crosse NWS.

UW-Platteville campus building

UW-Platteville stadium

The four other tornadoes were near the Madison area. The strongest tornado of the night hit the city of Verona on the north-side just after midnight. The EF-3 twister had peak winds of 140 miles. It was on the ground for a mile and at times was 100 yards wide. Numerous buildings sustained minor to severe damage. Part of a wall of an elementary school collapsed. A second tornado hit 1 mile southwest of the State Capitol on Madison’s southwest side at 12:20 a.m. The EF-2 tornado was on the ground for ¼ mile and was up to 200 yard wide. There were some tree, power lines, and some structural damage on Friar Lane, stretching to Schroeder Road in the Sherwood Forest Park area. Below is a look at the path of these two tornadoes and a picture of the damaged school in Verona provided by the Milwaukee National Weather Service.

Damaged Verona elementary school

Two EF-1 tornadoes touched down northeast of Blanchardville in Green County around 11:50 p.m. There were numerous trees down and a farmstead was hit. The twister both had peak winds of 95 mph. Below is a map of those tornadoes’ path.

Some wind damage also occurred to trees in the La Crosse area including at the UW-La Crosse campus that same night. Here’s one photo from the north-side of La Crosse.

Fortunately, there were no deaths as a result of the storms in Wisconsin. Folks in Nebraska were not as lucky with several large and violent tornadoes touching down both Monday and Tuesday and killing at least two people, one of them a five-year-old.

On Monday afternoon, a large and powerful supercell thunderstorm developed in prime conditions for tornadoes. This lead to a fairly rare event where one supercell was producing multiple tornadoes at one time. Below is a look at the velocity data on radar. The big circle is the main mesocyclone, or large scale rotation, within the supercell thunderstorm. Within that mesocyclone area, are an amazing three distinct rotation couplets that were producing a tornado. You can pick those out based on the bright red and green colors that are very close together (the three rotations and tornadoes are circled).

@TornadoTrackers took this incredible photo they shared on Twitter of the brief moment where three large wedge tornadoes were on the ground north of Pilger, NE. In all 5 tornadoes touched down from this supercell and all but one were violent EF-4 twisters.

The videos taken from that day are incredible. Here is just one of the videos showing the fury of this violent EF-4 tornado as it moves through the town of Pilger, NE. The video is from Basehunters Chasing. Towards the end you can see the other tornado in the background.

Another large supercell formed late in the day on Tuesday near the area that was hit hard on Monday. Below is a look at one of the wedge tornadoes from the day as it moved through the town of Coleridge, NE.

So far it’s been an incredible and scary week of weather. The trend looks to continue with severe weather possible again today and tomorrow across the Upper Midwest. Flooding will be a big concern for here in Western Wisconsin, but severe storms will be possible for us too mainly on Thursday.

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