It seems safe to say the weather pattern here in North Central Wisconsin has been a little all over the place in the past couple of weeks. From Monday to Friday of this past week (May 9-13) we had at least 3 rounds of severe weather, along with a brief taste of late spring temperatures. Let's start off with the interesting weather phenomena that Central Wisconsin experienced early on in the week.
Monday, May 9th
It began as a damp and cool day in the region with a band of rain and storms that developed overnight back across Minnesota pushing east into the Wisconsin River Valley. Periods of rain fell from late morning into the early afternoon accompanied by a few embedded storms. However as the rain was winding down, rather strong, gusty winds blew across parts of the area. This was caused by a wake low. Check out the graphic below.
Although it might seem rare that we have damaging winds after the storms go by, instead of during or just before, we do end up having this type of episode play out a couple times a year in the region. Many times, we can give you fair warning that such an event is taking place before it happens. One way is to look at the winds behind were the storms had pasted by. Another was making use of Titan Radar. Instead of exclusively looking at the typical radar images on Titan, we can check out the wind velocities at different parts of the lower levels of the atmosphere. Many a times, we make use of this velocity mode to see if rotating storms are in our region. The image below is of the Doppler Radar from the NWS in La Crosse of the wind speeds just before 1pm on May 9th.
The place to focus on here are the darker shades of orange which extended from near Phillips back to the south just west of Wausau and Mosinee. This is where the winds behind the line of rain were running at about 35-40 knots about a thousand feet off the ground, translated to wind gusts as high as 61 mph in Wausau, 52 mph in Marshfield and 47 mph in Antigo. The end result was downed trees and power lines in parts of the area.
Wednesday, May 11th
Two rounds of storms rolled across the area, the first batch sprang to life back near the Twin Cities into the Brainerd Lakes area in eastern Minnesota on Tuesday evening, spawning a tornado and up to baseball sized hail. Well as the storms continued to track off to the northeast ahead of a warm front, they made it into western parts of the Northwoods around 1am. From there the storms tracked east, causing hail up to 1" in size around 3am in Rhinelander, and if nothing else waking folks out of a deep sleep. After a bit of a lull during the late morning, another cluster of storms came together across the southern and western parts of our area. Juneau, Adams and Price Counties had thunderstorm warnings in the afternoon, but fortunately not much storm damage resulted.
Thursday, May 12th
Last but not least the day started off as a relatively quiet one with areas of locally dense fog, followed by bright sunshine from late morning into the afternoon. By this point, we were watching a cold front slowly making it's way toward North Central Wisconsin. With the help of sunshine, a surge of dew points into the upper 50s to low 60s, and temperatures in the low 80s in Wausau and 87 in Plover, it was only a matter of time before the storms got rolling. Sure enough by 2pm, strong storms were blooming south of highway 10 and slowly worked to the north-northeast as the afternoon wore on. Although Titan Radar showed some intense storms across parts of Adams, Portage & Waupaca Counties, outside of heavy downpours and frequent lightning, just a bit of small hail was reported. However after 4:30pm, strong to severe storms came to life just southeast of Wausau and quickly grew, not only putting down quarter sized hail, but also causing localized flash flooding. These same storms pushed into parts of the Northwoods, which again lead to flooding on a few area roads.
As we wound the week down on Friday, clouds accompanied by showers and cooler weather had once again returned. No less, the past week certainly took on the type of stormy weather that we have experienced many times in June. With that big severe weather month on the horizon, only time will tell with what we might have to deal with next.
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