Update: Over a dozen tornadoes confirmed in southern Wisconsin on March 31
Severe storms produced 15 tornadoes in southern Wisconsin on Friday night with a dynamic early spring storm system.
Southern Wisconsin (WSAW) - The National Weather Service in Milwaukee has confirmed fifteen tornadoes that impacted Dane, Jefferson, Green, Iowa, Lafayette, Rock & Walworth Counties on Friday night, March 31 from approximately 6:45 PM to 8:30 PM. This includes 8 EF-0 tornadoes with max winds of 80 mph and 7 EF-1 tornadoes with max winds of 95-100 mph. No fatalities or injuries were reported from this outbreak of severe storms.
While North Central Wisconsin was dealing with heavy rain and mostly garden variety storms Friday night north of a warm front, more unstable weather conditions were found in southern and southeast Wisconsin Friday night as a cold front and low pressure tracked through the region. Severe storms produced damaging winds, hail, and several tornadoes to the south of the warm front, which was located near the I-90/94/39 corridor. Tornadoes of EF-0 to EF-1 intensity have been confirmed by the National Weather Service.
The first tornado was found to have occurred in Beloit (Rock County) near the Merrill Park area just after 7:45 PM Friday. Damage was noted to numerous trees on the east side of the city in the Turtle area, crossing I-39, then dissipating in a field. The twister was on the ground for 3.8 miles and was up to 100 yards wide.
Two additional tornadoes were confirmed in Walworth County just to the ENE of Sharon near the Illinois state line and W of Como, near Lake Como. Both of these tornadoes were EF-0 with max winds of 80 mph. The twister near Sharon took place around 8 PM and was on the ground for 10.4 miles, with a max width of 150 yards. Damage to a few barns and a number of large trees was reported as the tornado passed near the southern end of Delavan Lake. The tornado near Como occurred at 8:10 PM. It was on the ground for 6.1 miles with a max width of one and a half football fields. Damage to a storage facility and a few uprooted trees was observed in the impacted area.
The 4th tornado, also found in Walworth County was south of Whitewater. This EF-0 twister was on the ground for nearly 5 miles over 6 minutes and was as wide as five football fields. Many trees were snapped, ripped apart, or uprooted. There was also minor damage to a house in the tornado’s path.
A cluster of tornadoes was also confirmed in Green & Rock Counties near Juda, Albany, and north of Broadhead. The two EF-0 tornadoes were 175 yards wide and on the ground from 3 to 6 miles over 10 to 18 minutes. The EF-1 tornado was 350 yards wide and covered nearly 10 miles in 25 minutes. Much of the damage was done to trees in these areas, along with snapped power poles, plus roof and facia damage to houses or outbuildings.
The 8th tornado was in eastern Dane County to the east of Stoughton. This tornado was on the ground for 10 minutes, covering a little over 4 miles, and was 350 yards wide. Trees were snapped, topped, and uprooted, with two power poles snapped. Sheet metal was carried approximately 400 yards downstream from its original location.
The tornado in Jefferson County was near Lake Ripley. It was on the ground for a little over 1 mile and was up to 50 yards wide. Damage was done to a fence, numerous trees, along with a shed being destroyed, as well as minor damage to a house.
A 10th tornado was found in Jefferson County near Palmyra. This twister was brief but strong. It was on the ground for less than 0.2 miles and has been classified as an EF-1 with max winds of 95 mph. Damage was reported to a house under construction, with roofing associated with the house lofted over 100 yards away into nearby woods. In addition, numerous pine trees were snapped or uprooted in the path of the tornado.
An 11th and 12th tornado were confirmed in Lafayette & Iowa Counties. Both were EF-1 twisters. A tornado west of Belmont was on the ground for nearly 13 miles with max winds of 100 mph. Damage was reported to several farm buildings, outbuildings, and grain bins. Several trees were uprooted or snapped. The tornado north of Rewey had max winds of 95 mph and was on the ground for about a half mile. Several trees were damaged, along with outbuildings in the path of the twister.
Additional storm surveys conducted weeks after the initial event found three additional tornadoes which impacted SE Dane County, Iowa County, and Walworth County.
Through June 2, there have been 16 confirmed tornadoes (15 on March 31) in Wisconsin this year. This was the highest number of tornadoes to ever occur in March. In addition, it was the second most tornadoes to impact this part of the state on record. The most number of tornadoes with a tornado outbreak in southern Wisconsin is 16. This took place twice, August 28, 2018, and August 18, 2005. Since 1950, 32 tornadoes have been recorded during the month of March.
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