Assessing the damage left by storms

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- As storm season continues, the National Weather Service stays busy tracking potentially severe storms.

On July 4th, an EF-0 tornado was confirmed in Rusk County.

The NWS uses what is called the “Enhanced Fujita scale” to rank tornadoes. Todd Krause is a meteorologist with the NWS in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His job is to assess the damage after possible tornadoes has been reported. Krause has been to Rusk County twice in the month of July.

He conducts damage surveys to better understand the behavior of storms and takes that information back to the NWS.

"I come in with this information and give that to them, and that's how we learn a lot about how storms act and how they look on the radar," he said.

The first trip to Rusk County was to confirm an EF-0 tornado that touched down just southwest of Bruce, this time is to determine whether a tornado touched down there Monday night.

Krause says his surveys helps forecasters learn how storms act and how they look on radar.

"The main reason we do damage surveys is to learn about the storm, so that we can learn what the storm really did. When did it produce a tornado or when was it producing damaging winds,” he said. “For example the tornado that touched down just southwest of Bruce a couple of weeks ago, that mainly toppled a lot trees. I didn't see any singles off or soffits or anything."

Krause says although a lot of research is done on tornadoes, there's still a lot to learn.

"There is an awful lot about tornadoes that we still don't know yet. It sounds like this great science were we know everything about tornadoes because people are doing all sorts of measurements, storm chasing and going right up to tornadoes,” he said. “Tornadoes form from a variety of storms, we always thought it had to be a certain type of storm but there are a couple other types of storms that produce tornadoes."

While the most recent tornadoes to hit western Wisconsin haven't been highly damaging, Krause says that's not always the case.

"Wisconsin had a tornado rated a 5 hit Barneveld back in 1984, Oakfield in 1996 was rated a 5, the tornado that was on the ground for 80 some miles a couple years ago was a 3, Ladysmith was rated a 3."

Krause went on to say tornadoes are not produced from just one type of storm. He says having reliable storm spotters relay information back to the national weather service is key for issuing warning and keeping those in the path of storms safe.