Utilities work to restore power, storm damage cleanup continues

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Power lines along State 160, west of Pulaski, were snapped off during Wednesday night's storm.

A tornado that touched down near Tomah just before 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, left a wake of destruction as it traveled northeast through Monroe County for about 15 miles.

"The tornado took down multiple trees, power lines, and barns," the county's sheriff's office wrote in a Facebook post. "There is wide spread power outage and damage to a number of homes as well."

The Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston sustained storm damage and ran on backup power, sheriff officials said.

The powerful storms also toppled semis on the interstate and left tens of thousands without electricity in parts of Wisconsin. The National Weather Service reported that debris lofted by the tornado could be detected by radar.

According to the Caledonia Argus, a microburst damaged farm buildings, trees, powerlines and crops between County 1 and County 10. 

Storms across Wisconsin brought several inches of rain, and flooding, to some communities. Watertown recorded nearly 6 inches of rain.

The fast moving storm system left behind numerous power outages in central Wisconsin.

More than 90,000 Wisconsin residents lost power Wednesday night, including about 34,000 Wisconsin Public Service customers, 3,500 Adams-Columbia County Electric Cooperative customers, 11,000 Alliant Energy customers, 17,000 Oakdale Electric Cooperative customers. About 43,000 We Energies customers were still without power as of 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

A powerful storm ripped the siding off a building at 2027 Velp Ave. on June 15, 2022 in Howard.

One Brown County community was hit especially hard. The Village of Hobart located west of Green Bay was placed under a state of emergency after many roads were blocked by fallen trees and branches. Village President Richard Heidel said there are still many power lines down on the roads along with other debris.

Elsewhere in the county, some communities reported traffic lights out of order. 

Brown County Emergency Management late Wednesday said it will likely be several days before "trees, power lines, and other hazards" can be removed from roadways where they had fallen.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson said some rural roads are impassable.

“Crews will be taking inventory and clearing today. Affected areas include Dale, Center, Freedom, Seymour, Black Creek. Take extra time on your morning commute. Be safe,” Nelson said.

The Green Bay Metro Fire Department said its crews responded to about 150 calls for service in Green Bay, Allouez, and Bellevue. Those calls included downed power lines, damaged poles, gas leaks, and damage to homes.

The storm also overturned semis. Interstate 90-94 in Monroe County was closed for more than three hours due to trailers being blown onto their sides, An overturned semi was also reported on Hwy 172 in Brown County. 

Officials said no serious injuries were reported as a result of the storms which brought some relief from oppressive heat and humidity this week.

USA TODAY NETWORK - Wisconsin and Associated Press also contributed to this report.