One year and six days after two tornadoes hit Platteville, severe weather of a related kind hit the Platteville area Monday morning.
The storms weren’t officially tornadoes, but the damage caused by winds estimated at up to 70 mph affected a considerably larger geographic area, from Potosi to Platteville and into Belmont and Lafayette County.
More than 300 homes had some damage, with about 20 of them experiencing “moderate” damage, according to Grant County Emergency Management. About 30 agricultural buildings were either destroyed or heavily damaged, including consecutive farms on College Farm Road south of Platteville. The peak of the dairy barn roof at UW–Platteville’s Pioneer Farm was blown off, and the beef barn has a 100-square-foot hole in its roof, with power lines pulled off the building, according to UWP officials.
Two farms owned by Tom and Kelli Weigel on College Farm Road had damage to every building except one house, with three buildings destroyed.
Tom Weigel said he was at another farm west of College Farm Road, and “we could hear roaring, and we took cover.”
Though the National Weather Service hasn’t reported that the storm damage was caused by tornadoes, Weigel said, “We heard the roar of a tornado. It was definitely a tornado ... trees are snapped off high and low.”
The Weigels have been getting considerable help in cleanup on their farms.
“They're hectic but progressing very well,” he said Wednesday morning. “Things are getting cleaned up in a hurry, and the amount of help we’ve gotten is just outstanding.
“We see people get hit every year, and this year it’s our turn. ... Everything can be fixed, but you can’t replace a family member or an employee.”
There were no reported injuries from Monday’s storms.
A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for Grant County around 7 a.m., and a severe thunderstorm warning was issued just before 9 a.m. Just after 9 a.m., Platteville’s storm sirens were activated.
Shortly after that, Kristal Prohaska, who lives on Division Street, said she saw a “wall of wind,” which may have been the cause of the tree that blew down in front of the Prohaska house, as well as a large tree that blocked the 300 block of South Chestnut Street, one block to the east.
Roads were blocked in numerous places because of downed power lines and toppled trees, including in two locations on West Main Street in Platteville. Power lines were also reported down north of Ellenboro. Roads were blocked until early Tuesday in Lafayette County, including Lafayette County XX from Belmont to Ipswitch Road. Trees of 10 to 30 inches in diameter were reported snapped southwest of Mineral Point.
Power was out along Chestnut Street in Platteville, in several other parts of the city, and in numerous areas outside Platteville. Power was restored in downtown Platteville after 6 p.m.
Wind gusts were estimated in National Weather Service reports at 70 mph in Platteville and 50 to 60 mph in Belmont.
Compared with the two 2014 tornadoes, damage was “definitely” more widespread, said Platteville Fire Chief Ryan Simmons, whose firefighters were out nearly five hours between storm-spotting, assessing damage and blocking off streets due to storm damage.
With storm damage throughout the area, Simmons said, “it’s a difficult response knowing that you may not have added resources from the surrounding areas because they’re in the same situation we are.”
The damage on South Chestnut Street was slightly north of the areas that received heavy damage in the 2014 EF-2 tornado. Some houses that had damage a year ago appeared to have been damaged again from the high winds.
Trees fell on houses all over Platteville. A house at North Second Street and Pitt Street had damage from a collapsing tree. Downtown, First Congregational United Church of Christ also had a tall tree land on its west side.
Smith Park and other parks in the city, as well as Greenwood Cemetery on the UW–Platteville campus had tree damage.
Significant damage was found in all directions outside of Platteville. On Grant County B west of Platteville, a tree landed on the west side of Scott and Debi Kramer’s house.
Debi Kramer said she went to the basement after hearing storm reports on police radio around 9:30 a.m. She then said she heard “that big sound you always hear. I didn’t know what it was, but it didn’t sound good.”
After coming out of their basement, she said she saw tree branches, and then larger tree branches, and then heard dripping water. A large tree crashed into two of the house’s bedrooms.
Monday’s storm damage began in Cassville, including a damaged hangar at the Cassville Municipal Airport and along Jack Oak Road in the Town of Cassville. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks were briefly blocked because of downed trees.
Storm damage was also visible on Wisconsin 81 between Lancaster and Platteville, and on Wisconsin 133 between Potosi and Cassville.
The storms didn’t appear to drop significant rain in this area, although 1.82 inches of rain was reported east-southeast of Boscobel and 1.54 inches of rain was reported in Muscoda. Hail of 1.25 inches was reported south of Wauzeka, according to the National Weather Service.
To report storm damage, contact Grant County Emergency Management, 723-7171, the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, 776-4870, or Iowa County Emergency Management, 935-0329.
Updates on storm damage can be read at www.swnews4u.com.
David Timmerman of the Grant County Herald Independent contributed to this story.