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9th tornado confirmed in Wisconsin from historic December storm

The tornado occurred in Chippewa County along the east side of Lake Wissota
The National Weather Service in La Crosse confirmed two additional tornadoes in Wisconsin from...
This photo is from tornado damage in Clark County.(National Weather Service - La Crosse)
Published: Jan. 16, 2022 at 9:50 AM CST
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TOWN OF LAFAYETTE (CHIPPEWA COUNTY), Wis. (WEAU) - Historic storms on Dec. 15, 2021 produced nine tornadoes in west-central Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service offices in the Twin Cities and La Crosse.

The Twin Cities NWS office confirmed a 9th tornado from the storm system happened in Chippewa County, beginning in the Town of Lafayette and traveling north-northeast along the east side of Lake Wissota before ending in the Town of Anson.

The EF0 tornado had an estimated top wind speed of 85 miles per hour and traveled about five and a half miles with a maximum width of 75 yards. Damage to hundreds of trees was reported, with many of them snapped or uprooted, some landing on houses. Three homes had shingles or soffits blown off from the tornado. The path of the tornado took it across Highway 29, County Highway X and a small part of Lake Wissota State Park, as well as going over lower Lake Wissota and two different parts of the eastern side of Lake Wissota.

The NWS office in Milwaukee said that 40 tornadoes occurred in Wisconsin in 2021. That’s the most since 2010, when the state had 46 confirmed tornadoes. The nine December tornadoes are also the most for that month since reliable tornado tracking in the state began in 1950; prior to 2021, only six December tornadoes in the state had been confirmed.

In late December, the NWS office in La Crosse confirmed an EF1 tornado began near Homer, Minn. and ended on an island in the Mississippi River in Trempealeau County. That brought the total to eight tornadoes in Wisconsin. On Dec. 23, the same office confirmed a pair of EF1 tornadoes, one west of Greenwood in Clark County and one south of Osseo in Trempealeau and Jackson counties, which were the 6th and 7th confirmed tornadoes from the derecho.

The 5th confirmed tornado was a brief EF0 tornado that hit the Village of Trempealeau, knocking trees onto several homes. An EF0 tornado in rural eastern Eau Claire County damaged several homes as part of the storm system, the 4th confirmed tornado. The most damaging tornado occurred in the City of Stanley, where an EF2 tornado went through downtown. The first two tornadoes to be confirmed were in Clark County near Neillsville, both rated EF2, which damaged trees and homes.

All told, three of the tornadoes were rated EF2, three were EF1, and three were EF0. No one was killed in the outbreak, which led to the highest number of wind speed reports of 75 miles per hour or greater ever taken by the National Storm Prediction Center, 64. In Minnesota, 20 tornadoes had been confirmed as of the end of 2021 as part of the outbreak. No December tornadoes had been recorded before Dec. 15, 2021.

Wisconsin’s nine tornadoes and Minnesota’s 20 were part of at least 94 total tornadoes reported in the serial derecho, which spanned from the Central Plains to central Wisconsin.

A graphic from the National Weather Service showing the storm reports from a historic serial...
A graphic from the National Weather Service showing the storm reports from a historic serial derecho on Dec. 15, 2021 affecting the Central Plains and Midwest.(National Weather Service)

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