Rare November Twisters

Last Monday, November 22nd featured some dynamic weather across the Badger State.  First off the bat there was a sharp contrast in temperature from north to south.  As the surface map below from Noon on 11/22 illustrates there was nearly a 40 degree difference from Superior in northwest Wisconsin (25 degrees) to Monroe in southern WI (63 degrees) .

Next take into account that the reason for this large contrast in temperatures was the juxtaposition of a warm front, cold front and wave of low pressure riding northeast toward southern Lake Michigan.  As you can see, much of North Central Wisconsin was in the cool sector to the north of the low, however that didn't mean we were totally out of the realm of instability.  There were strong showers that produced rumbles of thunder and a few flashes of lightning.  However the true severe storms were confined down into the Quad Cities area, east to northern Illinois and far southern/southeastern Wisconsin.

It should be noted that this is the first time in 39 years that tornadoes have be reported in the Badger State during the month of November.  In addition, in case you are wondering, the last tornado sighting locally in November was back on November 15, 1960.  More on that in a moment.  Back to the severe weather event this past Monday. The first tornadoes touched down in northern Illinois just around 3pm as the cold front was rolling in from the west.  These storms raced to the northeast, with an initial twister being reported near Walworth in Walworth County just after 3:30pm.  This was an EF1 tornado with maximum winds of 105, a width of a football field and tracked for 4 miles before lifting.  A second tornado was then sighted about a half hour later at 4pm near Franksville in Kenosha County.  This was again an EF1 twister, with max winds of 105 mph.  The width of this tornado was 150 yards and tracked northeast for 11.5 miles before falling apart in Racine County.

In the wake of these storms, there was widespread damage to properties, overturned vehicles/trucks along with uprooted trees and mangled power lines.  You can find out more information on these storms from the NWS Milwaukee, NWS Chicago and NWS Quad Cities.  One fortunate aspect was that no one was killed due to the tornadoes or the debris that they projected.  With these two tornadoes, that puts our total for the year at 46 in Wisconsin, which is a solid 2nd place on the list behind 2005 when there were 62 tornadoes in the Badger State.

Here's a bit more on that tornado in Clark County back in mid-November 1960.  According to the Storm Report Data from the National Weather Service, a F2 tornado (winds 113-157 mph) rolled across South Central Clark County.  It was first sighted at 2:25pm, covering an estimated distance of 36 miles, was as wide as a football field and caused $25,000 in damage.  Needless to say this is a long track twister and likely caused damage to area homes and farms.  The questions are where exactly were the start and end points of this tornado?  The latitude/longitude information provided with the storm report covers not only Clark County, but also would have extended the twister into northwest Wood and possibly Marathon County starting near Chili and ending near highway N a few miles southwest of Rib Mountain.

All in all, tornadoes in November are rare for Wisconsin, but certainly not out of the question.  The only month that there has not been a reported tornado in the state is during the month of February.

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