Wisconsin Tornado Leaves Trail of Destruction

Wisconsin is not known for its tornadoes, but on February 8, 2024, the state experienced a rare weather event. The National Weather Service confirmed the first-ever tornado in February just south of Madison. This was the first tornado ever for the state of Wisconsin during the month since records have been kept, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

There was some damage in the region from the tornado, including fallen trees and electrical wires. On that day, a tornado warning was issued by the National Weather Service for a portion of Jefferson County. At 6:00 p.m., the tornado was reported close to the boundary between Rock County and Dane County, west of the city of Edgerton. Locals reported seeing hail, strong lightning, and gloomy skies. Thankfully, there were no reported injuries; but, the tornado serves as a reminder of how erratic weather patterns can be.

Although Wisconsin is not normally considered to be in “Tornado Alley,” the state has had tornadoes in the past. A tornado that struck the northeastern region of the state in August 2018 damaged both homes and businesses. With speeds as high as 120 miles per hour, the tornado was rated as an EF2. Despite the rarity of tornadoes in Wisconsin, it is crucial that locals understand the dangers and take protective measures when severe weather is predicted.

Wisconsin Tornado Historical Account

With the first tornado ever observed in Wisconsin occurring in 1844, the state has a lengthy history of tornadoes. There have been multiple tornadoes in the state since then, all of differing intensity that have caused property damage and fatalities.

Notable Tornado Events

The 1996 tornado that struck Oakfield, Wisconsin, was one of the most devastating ever recorded. With gusts as high as 260 mph, this F5 tornado seriously damaged the village of Oakfield and left 12 people injured. One person died as a result of the tornado. There are just two F5 tornadoes known to have occurred in Wisconsin.
The 2005 Stoughton tornado outbreak was another noteworthy tornado event in Wisconsin. Several tornadoes, including an F3 tornado that struck the town of Stoughton, were spawned by this outbreak in southern Wisconsin. Numerous homes and businesses were destroyed in the town as a result of the tornado’s significant damage.

Tornado Season Patterns

Tornadoes in Wisconsin typically occur between April and September, with the peak season being in June and July. The state experiences an average of 23 tornadoes per year, with the majority of them being EF0 or EF1 tornadoes. However, as evidenced by the recent February 2024 tornado, tornadoes can occur outside of the typical tornado season.

In order to be prepared for tornadoes, residents in Wisconsin must have a plan in place and be aware of the weather. To keep residents safe and informed during severe weather, the National Weather Service issues tornado watches and warnings.

Safety and Preparedness for Tornadoes

In only a few seconds, a tornado can strike and do enormous damage. To safeguard yourself and your loved ones, it is crucial to have a safety plan in place. Here are a few pointers for creating a safety plan and surviving a tornado.

Building a Safety Plan

The first step in building a safety plan is to identify a safe place in your home where you can take shelter during a tornado. Ideally, this should be a basement or storm cellar. If you do not have access to a basement or storm cellar, choose an interior room on the lowest level of your home, away from windows.

Once you have identified a safe place, make sure everyone in your household knows where it is and how to get there quickly. Consider conducting tornado drills with your family to practice what to do in the event of a tornado.

It is also a good idea to put together an emergency kit that includes essential items such as water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and a flashlight. Keep this kit in your designated safe place so that it is readily available in case of an emergency.

Community Warning Systems

In addition to having a safety plan in place, it is also important to stay informed about tornado warnings in your area. Many communities have warning systems in place, such as sirens or text alerts, to notify residents of impending severe weather.

Make sure you are aware of the warning system in your community and how to access it. Consider signing up for text alerts or downloading a weather app that provides real-time updates on severe weather in your area.

If you hear a tornado warning or see a tornado approaching, take immediate action to protect yourself and your loved ones. Move to your designated safe place and stay there until the danger has passed. Remember, tornadoes can be unpredictable, so it is better to err on the side of caution and stay in your safe place until you are certain it is safe to come out.

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