Storm Team 4: Two Confirmed Tornadoes Touched Down in Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE - The National Weather Service on Monday confirmed that two tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin; one in Adams County and another in Washara County.
Governor Walker spent much of the day Monday touring the damage in Merrill--one of the hardest hit areas.
There is a total of seven unconfirmed reports of tornadoes touching down in Wisconsin because of the line of strong spring storms that blew through the state.
At least three people were injured in the storms.
Wisconsin Emergency Management spokesperson Lori Getter told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that crews were traveling to each of the reported tornado locations and other places where damage happened.
"(We're) looking at damage. We're looking at how many homes were damaged or destroyed. We'll take that information and we'll go from there," said Getter.
She explained that state crews coordinate with county emergency efforts to come up with damage assessments, and that a final tally is a few days away.
She also explained that they were watching for flooding, including a possible cresting of the Mississippi River which borders Wisconsin.
Merrill Among Hardest Hit Places
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• Click here to listen to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News" talk with WSAU Radio reporter Matt Lehman about storm damage in Northern Wisconsin
Three people suffered minor injuries, but Bialecki said the damage was "major."
"A lot of trees down, power lines down. We had gas leaks all over. We did have residential damage, too, in the city and just north of the city."
Bialecki said that some people "completely lost homes," and business owners will have to sift through the wreckage of storm damage as well.
"Several of our businesses, if they weren't destroyed, they were damaged," said Bialecki.
"This morning, we're going to have our street crew with chain saws, opening up access to all these areas, going into buildings to make sure that no one's in them yet."
"To top things off, the Wisconsin River goes through town, and right now, it's hit its highest level in 70 years. We're keeping a close eye on that, too. It's starting to come out of its banks in a few areas."
Another city, Kaukauna, suffered extensive storm damage, including a garage that came off its foundation and flew across a street into a church.
Storm Team 4Caster Ritka explained that people all over were discovering "considerable tree damage, as well as some pretty strong wind gusts, a little bit of barn damage in some areas around Eau Claire, but most of it stayed north and west of Southeastern Wisconsin. There was a little bit more hail damage in Southeast Wisconsin."
She said the worst areas involved Adams County and Marathon County. There were lots of reports of downed trees in Arkdale and Hamburg.
Other areas that got the worse of the 65 and 70 mile per hour areas included Winnebago, Forest and Waushara Counties.
Some oak trees that were 100 years old were knocked down.
Then, there was the hail.
"We did have several reports of one-inch diameter hail or larger. A couple areas caught some golf-ball sized hail as well, especially around Eau Claire and La Crosse. They got some reports of tree and car damage."
Ritka explained that some areas even saw baseball-sized hail.
The reason there wasn't a great human toll in this storm system? Ritka says that people were prepared.
"A lot more people were weather-aware because you could see these huge systems pushing towards us," said Ritka.
"The fact that this was a really well-advertised severe weather outbreak mean that a lot of people were watching the weather. We had been seeing the system coming for several days, and we had been saying, 'Make sure to stay tuned for the weekend.'
"It did kind of spark off in Western Wisconsin, and slowly move to the east, but individually, storm systems were moving about 60 miles and hour to the north and the east, so they were pretty quick once they were on top of the area, but we did get to see a lot of development. You could see, if you looked off towards the west, these huge thunder clouds that were pushing toward the area.