Wisconsin Tornado Strength Upgraded

The severe thunderstorm that caused tornado damage in Polk, Barron, Rusk, and Price county has been increased to an EF 3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale with maximum sustained winds at 140mph. There was some recently discovered evidence near Conrath where a home was completely destroyed with no interior walls remaining. There was also significant tree damage as well.

The tornado began five miles south of Clayton, Wisconsin, in Southeast Polk County around 4:42 PM on May 16th and continued for more than two hours reaching a maximum width of three quarters of a mile and a length of 83 miles before dissipating in Southwest Price County 13 miles southeast of Hawkins, Wisconsin at 7:06 PM.

The worst damage occurred in Barron County where just north of Chetek, the tornado went through a mobile home park killing 1 person and injuring 25 others. The long length of the tornado also broke records. The longest track tornado beforehand was back in May 5th, 1953, where an F4 tornado came through Brunett, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix Counties. That length was 80 miles long.

There were some data discrepancies on the previous tornadoes since record keeping began in 1950. The Storm Prediction Center had the 1953 storm with a tornado length of over 100 miles, but the meteorologists from the National Weather Service office from the Twin Cities with help from the Duluth office as well as the Milwaukee office found that the storm data grouped multiple tornadoes from the severe storm into one unified path. The tornado that occurred last week was one continuous tornado on the ground.  The second longest length tornado was 78.4 miles, which occurred in September 28, 1971, passing through Langlade, Marathon, Marinette, Menominee, and Oconto Counties. The strength of that tornado was an F2.

The Fujita scale was modified from the F scale to the  Enhance Fujita EF scale after new research depicting wind strength with structural damage. The new scale became operational on February 1, 2007

The EF Scale is as following:

-Meteorologist Gino Recchia

Categories: Weather Blog