Storms bring 90-mph winds, large hail, tornadoes to central and northeastern Wisconsin
Strong winds and heavy rain hit the west side of Green Bay Friday night. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Severe, life-threatening thunderstorms aimed at central and northeast Wisconsin Friday night were bringing tornadoes, destructive wind gusts, power outages, torrential rain and large hail.
The National Weather Service called the intense supercell cluster in north-central and northeast Wisconsin a “particularly dangerous situation” with “widespread damaging winds.”
Wind gusts were reaching 90 mph as the storm moves across the state, causing power outages, downing trees and resulting in flash flooding.
"You are in a life-threatening situation. Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be heavily damaged or destroyed. Homes and businesses will have substantial roof and window damage. Expect extensive tree damage and power outages," the weather service said in a statement.
Residents should seek shelter immediately, the weather service said.
A severe thunderstorm warning was in effect for most of central and northeast Wisconsin, with warnings for the Oshkosh and Manitowoc areas expiring at 11:15 p.m. Wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph were expected.
Rock USA in Oshkosh told attendees to take cover in their vehicles as storms were hitting the area.
The Brown County Sheriff's Office issued the following statement to news outlets:
"Please advise the public not to traverse the roadways at this time as there are numerous trees down, zero visibility at times as well as some flash flooding causing very hazardous driving conditions. We are working with fire departments, municipal and county shops to resolve these issues and quickly and safely as possible."
Torrential downpours prompted flood advisories in every county going east from Wood to Manitowoc, with staggered end times between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m. The weather service warned of urban street flooding and ponding on highways.
"Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding," the weather service wrote in a statement.
A tornado was confirmed to have destroyed a barn in the Town of Knowlton, near Wittenberg, in Marathon County.
And the radar indicated a tornado rotation in rural northeastern Waupaca County near Clintonville about 9:15 p.m.
More than 36,000 Wisconsin Public Service customers were without power across the state late Friday night, as well as more than 9,000 Alliant Energy customers and 6,000 We Energies customers.
Langlade County has seen widespread damage, where wind gusts reached 80 mph, weather service meteorologist Roy Eckberg said.
The storm reached Green Bay and Appleton areas by 9:30 p.m. Wind gusts of 50 mph were reported at Green Bay's Austin Straubel International Airport, and the weather service reported trees had fallen in Allouez and the west side of Green Bay.
The weather service reported winds reached 52 mph at Oshkosh's Wittman Regional Airport.
The storm weakened slightly about 9:30 p.m. and did not appear capable of producing a tornado after that, according to the weather service.
The biggest hail to fall in northeast Wisconsin was expected to be in Oconto County, Eckberg said. Hail up to 2.5 inches in diameter was possible.
The storms were near Eau Claire around 7 p.m., where 80-mph winds and ping-pong-ball-size hail were reported. Weather spotters reported widespread damage to trees and power lines.
Contact Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @SCarson_News.