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Tornado Information


What is a Tornado?

Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.

Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

The following are facts about tornadoes:

A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when tornadoes are possible in the area. This is the time to remind family members where the safest places within your home are located, and listen to the radio or television for further developments.

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.

Fujita-Pearson Tornado Scale
F-0 40-72 mph Chimney Damage, Tree Branches Broken
F-1 73-112 mph Mobile homes pushed off foundation or overturned
F-2 113-157 mph Considerable damage, mobile homes demolished, trees uprooted
F-3 158-205 mph Roofs and walls torn down, trains overturned, cars thrown
F-4 207-260 mph Well-constructed walls leveled
F-5 261-318 mph Homes lifted off foundation and carried considerable distances,
Autos thrown as far as 100 meters
Interactive Twister

      If you are in: Then:
      A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building) Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.
      A vehicle, trailer, or mobile home Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
      The outside with no shelter Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

      Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

      Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

      Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

After a tornado

Can it Happen to You? It did for us...

June 7, 2007 Tornado

Fast moving supercell thunderstorms with damaging winds, hail larger than 5 inches in diameter, and tornadoes ripped across central and northeast Wisconsin on June 7, 2007.  Five tornadoes touched down in central and northeast Wisconsin.

A long-track tornado touched down at 4:31 pm east of Mattoon in Shawano County and continued northeast to the Oconto-Marinette County line.  The tornado was on the ground for at least 40 miles, and was over 1/2 mile wide at times.  Over 14000 acres of trees were snapped or flattened and many dozens of buildings were damaged or destroyed.  The twister was rated an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with estimated winds of 140 to 160 mph.   Damage by this tornado alone exceeded $15 million (property and timber).

June 7,
                    2007 Tornado Damage, Hwy 64
As the tornado moved northeast into the Nicolet National Forest in Oconto County, it flattened tens of thousands of trees as it headed toward Highway 64.  The damage path near Highway 64 was three-quarters of a mile wide!  The twister caused EF2 damage four miles north of the city of Mountain on Highway 32, in the town of Riverview, with estimated winds of around 130 mph.  The width of the tornado in this area was almost 1/2 mile.

Tens of thousands of trees, many pines, were snapped or uprooted along the damage path.  Few, if any trees exhibited debarking.

To learn more about the June 7th Tornado, visit the NOAA Website

                      resident rode out the tornado in a bath tub
This is what remained of a double-wide mobile home in the town of Riverview.  The owner heard the Tornado Warning and went into the bathtub (circled in large view), and escaped without a scratch!

Other Information & Resources

Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Lightning...Nature's Most Violent Storms

Basic Spotters' Field Guide

Are you ready? Tornadoes - FEMA       Tornado - American Red Cross          Severe weather Outlook - visit the NOAA Website

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