Storms that brought flooding rains on Tuesday dropped two tornadoes on southern Wisconsin
Residents of southern Wisconsin were cleaning up after violent thunderstorms dropped upward of 5 inches of rain on parts of the region and produced two tornadoes late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Staffers from the National Weather Service office in Sullivan on Wednesday surveyed the storms' aftermath.
Meteorologists confirmed that an EF1 tornado, with wind speeds estimated at 100 mph, touched down in Jefferson County and then continued into Waukesha County.
Numerous trees were snapped or uprooted and roofs were damaged on several buildings. The tornado's starting point was near Rome Road and Froelich Road and the endpoint was near Highway 83 between county Highways E and D, according to the weather service.
Meteorologists also confirmed an EF0 tornado damaged farm fields and downed trees just west of Fort Atkinson. Wind speeds reached 80 mph, and it occurred about 20 minutes before the EF1 tornado, about 9:25 p.m. Wednesday.
Structural damage from the EF0 was mostly confined to a single barn, whose roof was peeled up, said warning coordination meteorologist Tim Halbach.
The tornado began near Highway A between Advent Road and Klement Road, and it ended near Hackbarth Road and Bramble Bush Lane in southeast Fort Atkinson.
Among other areas where damage was reported:
Straight-line wind gusts of 70 to 80 mph caused damage in the Dane County community of Belleville, which is about 20 miles south of Madison.
Several trees were blown down including one that landed on a house. Also, a construction trailer "that was not there before the storm," reportedly ended up in someone's yard, according to the weather service.
In Lafayette County, straight-line winds of 70 to 80 mph damaged grain silos, roofs and trees near the Village of Belmont, which is east of Platteville.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries as a result of the storms.
In western Waukesha County, the Western Lakes Fire District responded to 40 calls between about 10 p.m. Tuesday and 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to Assistant Chief Matthew Haerter.
The fire district is based in Oconomowoc and covers portions of Waukesha, Dodge and Jefferson counties.
"The majority of issues we had involved trees into houses, trees blocking the roadway, wires down sparking transformers," Haerter said. "We also assisted people from their homes that were blocked by trees to get to a safer place."
One of the calls involved a vehicle south of Dousman on Highway 67 that was struck by a tree in the middle of the road.
"They were thankfully uninjured, but they were trapped with live electrical wires," Haerter said. "They made an incredibly good decision and waited to get out of their vehicle.
"They were uninjured, but it was far better to leave them in the car until it was de-energized," Haerter added. "That was done by We Energies about 35 minutes later."
We Energies reported about 4,000 customers were without power at the height of the storms. Almost all those outages were caused by trees that were blown down and damaged utility poles and electric lines, a utility spokeswoman said.
The majority of those customers had power restored by late morning Wednesday.
More light rain, ranging from a tenth to a quarter of an inch, was expected through the morning Wednesday and again Wednesday night.
A flash flood warning that the weather service had posted until 10 a.m. Wednesday was canceled about 7 a.m.
Although the warning was canceled, rivers and streams throughout southern and central Wisconsin were at or above flood stage on Wednesday, according to the weather service.
"Most rivers will continue to rise with some rivers experiencing minor to moderate flooding," according to a statement from the weather service.
Road closures due to flooding were reported in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties at midday.
Shoreline areas of Lake Michigan facing the northeast may experience lakeshore flooding and erosion due to brisk northeast winds and high wave action.
Officials from the South Milwaukee Fire Department shared a video of the rushing Oak Creek after Tuesday's storms with a warning: "Please do not ever underestimate the power of water." Courtesy of South Milwaukee Fire Department
Here is a sampling of storm damage that has been reported:
Ozaukee County: In Saukville, Highway 33 was closed at Mill Street as of 7 a.m. Wednesday but was reopened according to the Saukville Fire Department Facebook page. Nearby, Park Street was also closed due to high water. Highway W and Hillcrest Road were also closed, according to the fire department.
On Tuesday night, flooding closed the southbound lanes of I-43 at Sandy Beach Road in the Town of Belgium, according to the Department of Transportation. The southbound lanes were reopened by Wednesday morning.
Dodge County: The sheriff's office said it had received "numerous reports of roads covered in water all over the northern part of the county" between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
Grant County: Near Platteville, a report of a farm building that lost its roof.
Lafayette County: Near Belmont, roof damage to a building reported.
Rain totals top 5 inches in 24 hours
The storms, including storms that moved through on Tuesday morning, brought staggering 24-hour rainfall totals that topped 5 inches in some areas.
According to preliminary weather service rainfall reports, areas of Washington, Ozaukee, Sheboygan and Dodge counties saw large amounts of rain between 7 a.m. Tuesday and 7 a.m. Wednesday. Here are some of the preliminary totals:
- Beaver Dam: 5.40 inches
- West Bend: 4.58
- Oostburg: 4.57
- Slinger: 4.50
- Belgium: 4.25
- Hartford: 4.22
- Allenton 4.20
- Sheboygan: 3.75
- Fond du Lac: 3.32
- Madison: 3.15
- Milwaukee: 2.37
Mike Johnson and Sophie Carson of the Journal Sentinel staff and Jeff Rumage of the Now News Group contributed to this report. Contact Joe Taschler at (414) 224-2554 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTaschler or Facebook at facebook.com/joe.taschler.1.