Update: National Weather Service confirms tornadoes in Clark, Chippewa, Eau Claire & Trempealeau Counties
Severe storms produced nine tornadoes, numerous reports of wind damage, including down trees and power outages.
WESTERN Wis. (WSAW) - The National Weather Service in La Crosse has confirmed that 4 EF2 tornadoes struck, one to the west and another north of Neillsville, along with another near Merrillian in Clark County, as well as in Stanley in eastern Chippewa County on Wednesday, December 15th. In addition, there were 3 EF0 and 3 EF1 tornadoes found to have affected other locations in the western part of the state.
The first of two fast-moving tornadoes occurred to the west of Neillsville near Fivemile Creek. The tornado touched down at 9:07 PM and traveled 4 miles in about 4 minutes. A home was destroyed in Fivemile Creek, along with additional damage noted in the community of Globe or HOG corners. Numerous trees and power lines were snapped, and a portion of County Road H west of Globe was closed for a time due to debris blocking the road.
The second tornado took place to the north of Neillsville and to the south of Christie. The twister touched down at 9:16 PM and tracked north of a little less than a mile in 3 minutes. The tornado path began southwest of Highway 73 and Schofield Road, striking a farm located along the highway. The roof was torn off a building, along with windows being broken, mud-splattered on the home, and a barn being shifted off its foundation. A truck was moved 100 feet from the tornado and numerous trees were snapped or uprooted. As the tornado moved over both roads, it weaken as it went into a forested area.
Around the same time as the tornado near Christie was taking place, an EF2 tornado impacted Stanley in far eastern Chippewa County, extending into northwest Clark County. This tornado began near County Highway G and 40th Ave to the southwest of Stanley. The tornado intensified as it tracked NNE, reaching EF2 status, with winds up to 120 mph as the twister crossed Highway 29, over County Road H on the south side of town, moving to East 8th Ave and Kennedy Ave, then shifting into NW Clark County, lifting off the ground to the NE of Copenhaver Ave and Center Road. The tornado spun up at 9:15 PM and ended around 9:22 PM, on the ground for approximately 7 minutes. Damage was reported to numerous trees, destruction to a small farm building, and other metal structure buildings on the south end of Stanley, large sections of a roof blown off of a home, and roof panels off of a small barn.
An additional EF2 tornado occurred from 9:06 to 9:08 PM in Hewett Township in SW Clark County. This twister had max winds of 115 mph, was 250 yards wide, and covered 3.1 miles in 2 minutes. Damage was mainly to trees as this tornado took place in a rural area.
A fifth tornado was confirmed to have occurred in SE Eau Claire County to the west of Fairchild, tracking northweast over Highway 12, lifting prior to approaching the Clark County line. It has been classified as an EF0 tornado with max winds of 85 mph. It was on the ground for approximately 6 miles.
A sixth tornado was found to have occurred just north of Trempealeau in Trempealeau County. The tornado was briefly on the ground for 1 minute just after 8:20 PM. It developed along the shore of the Mississippi River and traveled 0.7 miles to the NE before lifting. Property damage was reported to many homes, including trees that fell on four homes. In addition, numerous trees were snapped in a wooded area.
The seventh tornado was confirmed along the Trempealeau/Jackson County line just after 8:53 PM. This was an EF1 tornado with max winds of 100 mph, and was on the ground for 2 minutes. This tornado began in NE Trempealeau County initially causing tree damage. As it pushed into NW Jackson County, it went through a farm, damaging an outhouse building, producing minor damage to a home. The tornado ended near Interstate 94 around County Road FF.
The eighth tornado was found to have taken place west of Greenwood at the intersection of County Road G and O. This short-lived tornado was an EF1 with max winds of 95 mph, and was on the ground for a quarter of a mile, for about 1 minute. The tornado damaged trees, lifted the roof off of a barn, snapped a power pole, and destroyed a pole shed.
An ninth tornado that began in Minnesota to the southwest of Homer, drove NE and moved into the Mississippi River, impacting an island on the Wisconsin side of the river. Damage was done in Minnesota to trees and outbuildings, and the uninhabited island also sustained tree damage. This was an EF1 tornado with max winds of 100 mph. It was 40 yards wide and was on the ground for 2.4 miles, during a time frame of 2 minutes.
A 10th tornado, found to be an EF-0, was confirmed by the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities nearly a month later with the same band of severe storms, with this twister taking place on the east side of Lake Wissota in Chippewa County. The tornado began near County Highway J just after 9:00 PM and pushed NE, crossing over Highway 29 west of 190th Street, and continued to track over the eastern portions of Lake Wissota, traveling east of Pine Habor Woods Park, then lifting near the inspection of County Round K and O. The tornado uprooted or damaged hundreds of trees, many landing on houses in the area. Shingles flew off the roofs of a couple of homes, while soffits were torn away from three houses. The tornado was on the ground for 5 minutes, covering 5.5 miles, with max winds of 85 mph, and a max width of 75 yards.
After an unseasonably warm day on Wednesday, with record highs that took place during the evening hours locally, along with widespread dense fog, a strong cold front and wave of low pressure rolled toward Wisconsin. A line of severe storms, moving at 60 to 75 mph to the northeast, quickly made their way through the region, first impacting Clark, Taylor, and Wood Counties a little after 9 PM. There were a number of reports of wind damage in these counties, including in Medford, Thorp, Stanley, and Withee. A wind gust of 69 mph was reported with the severe storms as they hit Wisconsin Rapids just after 10 PM.
This was the first time in 51 years that tornadoes occurred in December in Wisconsin. The only other time, since 1950, that tornadoes impacted the state was December 1st and 3rd of 1970. In addition, since 1986, this was the first time the Badger State has been under a tornado watch during December. Including the confirmed tornadoes on December 15th, that brings the state total for 2021 to 41 tornadoes. The average for a year in Wisconsin is 23.
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