Tornado Warning For Washington County

I apologize for the late post. It turned out to be a rather hectic day.

Another crazy weather day in Wisconsin. What looked to be a rather mundane afternoon and evening surprises with funnel clouds, flooding, and a tornado warning.

The tornado warning was issued for central Washington county around 7:15 and lasted until 7:45 PM. This was a doppler radar indicated tornado issued because of strong rotation noted by the radar. Previously, the storm had dropped 1.25″ of rain in 30 minutes in West Bend creating some street flooding.

The storms first started in Fond du Lac county during the late afternoon along the lake breeze boundary. This boundary was the focus for the storms into the evening. It provided enough lift to get the storms going and also the boundary created enough sheer to get the storms rotating. There were reports of funnel clouds in SE Fond du Lac county around 4:00 PM. Here is one of the pictures sent to us on ulocal.

The storms then calmed down for about an hour before re-firing in Washington county. As I watched the radar it appeared that the outflow boundary(area of winds pushing away from a diminishing storm) of the earlier convection converged with the lake breeze right over West Bend. The storm stayed in place for about an hour and caused some flooding.

The storm slowly moved southeast toward Jackson and began to rotate. The National Weather Service issued the tornado warning at 7:10 for central Washington county. Thankfully, the storm never produced a tornado. There were plenty of scary looking clouds.

Much to the chagrin of many of our viewers, we stayed on the air during the warning to keep people up to date on the storm and warn them of the possible tornado. We were airing “The Bachelor” at the time. I understand the frustration of the viewers, but it is our obligation as a news station to keep people informed about severe weather. I received over 140 emails and we had hundreds of calls to the newsroom of viewers not too excited we were staying wall-to-wall. As a meteorologist, this is a very tough call. I do not want to cry wolf, but the radar had a visible hook and rotation was ongoing for about 20 minutes. I would hate to think about the outcry if we decide not to go on and a tornado hits and injures or kills someone.

Thanks for reading.



6 Responses

  1. Mark, you don;t need to tell me, I live in West Bend, the skies got a eerie color, and the winds died down very sudden, then heavy rain, wind, the sirens went off, wild!!!!!!!!!, also Mark your the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nancy

    • Thank you, Nancy. I really appreciate that.

  2. As someone who is a devoted Bachelorette fan AND some who lives near the rotation, Im thankful for the decsion you made. There is always the computer to watch what we missed. The rotation could have become a tornado at any moment throughout the coverage. We really need to ask ourselves before complaining, “in the grand scheme of things, are we just thinking of ourselves here, or what is really important; the safety of us all.”

    • Dawn,

      Thank you for your thoughts. I was working 3 weeks ago when tornado warnings were issued during the Bachelorette. As expected the emails started pouring in saying get off the air. The warning was first for Jefferson county, and then Waukesha county. Once we told viewers that a large tornado had hit Eagle with extensive damage, not one more complaint email came in. I always find it amazing how people ‘don’t care’ until something bad happens. Either way it is a no win situation, simply meaning not everyone will be happy. But I think with the number of tornadoes we’ve seen in southeast Wisconsin this season, everyone should be happy about one thing. No serious injuries or deaths have resulted. To me, this says the public is listening to the warnings and taking the appropriate safety precautions. Jeremy

  3. Mark, you definitely made the right call. The well-being of the general public is much more important than The Bachelor.

    • Thanks, Robert. Have a great day.

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