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Wisconsin’s first-ever February tornadoes in history cause $2.4M in damages



A chunk of wood is impaled in Dan Wagner's SUV outside his home, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in the Town of Porter, Wis. A line of powerful storms and tornadoes fueled by unusually warm February weather ripped across southeastern Wisconsin on Thursday evening. (AP Photo/Todd Richmond)

EVANSVILLE, Wis. (AP) — The first tornadoes ever recorded in Wisconsin in the usually frigid month of February caused more than $2.4 million in damage, officials said Wednesday.

The tornadoes that ripped through Rock County on Feb. 8 killed some cattle and hit 30 homes, officials said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Shea joined La Crosse Talk PM this week to discuss the phenomenon, which came three years after the region saw 27 tornados in December — including storms that knocked out the Rotary Lights Christmas display at Riverside Park. Before that, there had never been a December tornado in the region or one ever in Minnesota.

The damage estimates don’t include agricultural impacts to silos, barns and equipment, said Kevin Wernet, director of Rock County Emergency Management.

More than $2 million in damages were reported in the town of Porter and more than $320,000 in damages were reported in the town of Fulton, officials said. Two homes were destroyed and 10 sustained major damage.

One confirmed tornado near Evansville was a “high end” F2, the weather service said. Those tornadoes are described as “significant,” with winds in this particular twister topping out at 135 mph (220 kph). It was on the ground for 36 minutes, traveling 24.5 miles (39.4 kilometers) with a maximum width of 500 yards (457.2 meters).

Another tornado that touched down near Juda was an F1 with peak winds of 110 mph (177 kph) and on the ground for 14 minutes, covering 8.35 miles (13.4 kilometers) with a maximum width of 50 yards (45.7 meters), the weather service said.

The tornadoes were the first Wisconsin has experienced during the month of February since at least 1950, when records started being kept.

Matt Artis, 34, surveys the wreckage Friday morning, Feb. 9, 2024, after a tornado struck his farm in the Town of Porter, Wis., on Thursday evening. A line of storms and tornadoes fueld by unusually warm February weather tore across southeastern Wisconsin on Thursday. (AP Photo/Todd Richmond)
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