Here in the Weather Lab we were expecting Tuesday to be an eventful weather day, as the atmosphere dynamics where coming together for severe storms. The first round of storms rolled through parts of Taylor, Price, and Lincoln counties during the 9 to 10:30am time frame with storms that had the potential for gusty winds and hail, did cause a handful of warnings, but no damage. This initial batch of storms was with a Mesoscale Convective System that had developed the night before back in the Dakotas and Minnesota, before crossing into our area by the morning. These storms were fortunately at the tail of their life cycle, which tends to peak just around sunrise.
The main event of severe weather blossomed during the mid-afternoon around 3pm back across Clark county, with additional scattered storms coming to life in Marathon, southern Lincoln, and Wood counties not too long there after. That storm cluster in Clark county slipped off to the east and in the process developed rotation, leading to the tornado warnings just after 4:30pm. Brief tornado touchdowns were reported just to the northwest and northeast of Brokaw, also near Hewitt-Texas, along with additional funnel clouds around Merrill. Meanwhile, the rumbler in Wood county dropped hail up to quarter size before weakening, with a new grouping of storms developing in Oneida county, causing several downed trees near Enterprise, before heading eastbound. Following our time line, the storms that were in Oneida county drifted into Forest county and lead to not only hail up to 1.5" in diameter but also our next tornado touchdown around Wabeno at 5:42pm. That thunderstorm eventually pushed off to the east, losing its steam as it headed toward Lake Michigan. Before all was said and done, there was another renegade storm that slid through Wood county near Pittsville just before 7pm that once again produced a possible brief tornado. In general, all of the afternoon storms on Tuesday were a direct result of a strong cold front crossing through the Wisconsin River Valley...which ironically won't lead to cooler weather for the rest of the week, but did bring down the dew points at least for Tuesday night and Wednesday. Based on the surveys done by the National Weather Service, these tornadoes were all weak, with a classification of EF-0.
So with all of that going on, I somehow was the only one who physically wasn't on-air covering the severe storms Tuesday...but probably would have been if the tornado producer in northern Marathon county was 10 miles farther south. Where was I? Well, I was hard at work at the Wisconsin Valley Fair and was planning to call the station and do a live phone update if the storms rolled right into Marathon Park. Fortunately, at 4:30pm when I analyzed the sky, you could see the ferocious dark clouds to our north, a break right over Marathon Park, and more ominous clouds down to the south. All in all there was about a 10 second downpour at the fair and some brief gusty winds. Of course, outside of checking out the sky, I also brought along my walkman, that not only picks up NOAA Weather Radio, which I had on during much of my work shift, but also allows me to tune in to the local broadcast tv stations. In this case I had it locked to Newschannel 7, from the moment the first Tornado Warning was issued until the conclusion of the 6pm newscast. I was giving the folks in the Kiwanis Elephant Ears stand the play by play of the tornado sightings and large hail as they were happening and could visualize rather well what Titan Radar was showing. I do want to mention that if worst came to worst, our group does have a severe weather evacuation shelter, which is the Youth Building, literally diagonal from our stand on the east side of the park. Even though I missed out on being in front of the camera for this one severe outbreak, the several during the last few weeks and likely handful of more down the road will continue to keep me busy. Fabulous job to Mike, Chad and LeeAnn on keeping everyone in North Central Wisconsin up to date!
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