Never mind we're on the cusp of spring, the calendar still says winter. This time of year in Wisconsin can be a wild card with spring-like temperatures one day followed by a snowstorm the next. But tornadoes, like the F-1 twister that touched down near Stoughton over the weekend, are more likely to occur in summer, not now.
"It’s pretty rare in Wisconsin in March," said Mark Gehring with the National Weather Service in Sullivan. "It’s not unusual to have downbursts or severe weather but to get to a tornado is pretty rare."
The town of Dunkirk in Dane County was the site of Wisconsin’s first tornado of 2022 on Saturday. In 2021, Wisconsin had 41 tornadoes, with 20 in 2020, 28 in 2019 and 33 in 2018, according to National Weather Service data.
The tornado, which struck on the outskirts of the city of Stoughton, was an F-1 which traveled approximately 5 miles, taking down power lines and causing significant property damage. Stoughton Mayor Tim Swadley declared a state of emergency Monday. There were no injuries, he said, and nearly all 7,000 customers who lost power now have it restored.
"The first priority was to restore the power; cleanup is still occurring. There’s people cutting up trees and trying to get the roads open. A lot of siding and shingle damage, trees fell on homes," Swadley said.
"If you get a handful of tornadoes with one weather event, we’ll call it an outbreak. What we had the other night we think there was just one tornado," he said.
The National Weather Service is continuing to get damage reports, some from downbursts or from the destructive force of straight-line winds.
A stalled warm front helped spawn tornadoes in Iowa and southern Wisconsin. Normal temperatures for March in southern Wisconsin are usually in the 40s. Recently, southern Wisconsin had temperatures in the 60s. Kenosha hit 66 degrees Saturday. In Stoughton, it topped 50 degrees.
"You get these spring weather systems where you’ll have 30-40 degree temperature differences across these fronts which is pretty remarkable," Gehring said.