Tornado Near Sturtevant & Racine…Wind Storm Begins

***Watch WISN 12 News for updates throughout the day on the high winds!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 Blog. The intense Fall storm that we have been forecasting for the past week started with a line of severe thunderstorms early Tuesday. In this blog entry we will go over the tornado that hit near Sturtevant and Racine, and also talk about the wind machine that will continue for the next 2 days.

Let’s start with the severe thunderstorms that moved through early today. Between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. a line of strong storms raced through southeast Wisconsin. The storms were moving at an incredible 70 miles per hour to the northeast! This is about as fast as I’ve ever seen a storm move.

The storms produced damaging straight line winds, and one cell that moved in Racine County had enough rotation to spawn a possible tornado. The reports of the tornado were around 8:02 a.m., just a minute or two BEFORE a tornado warning was issued. We were on the air alerting our viewers to this dangerous situation when a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was in place for Racine and Kenosha county.  What’s amazing is the tornado path this morning crossed over and in some places mirrored path of the tornado that hit this same area back on Sunday, June 28!

Below is a picture of some of the damage near Sturtevant. This picture was posted on the U-Local section of

The NEXRAD radar image picked up the cell as the tail of the cell moved over Racine. This base reflectivity image is from 7:56 a.m. likly when the tornado was occurring or about to occur.

At the same time as the image above, the radial velocity was showing rotation within the storm. To detect rotation on a radar we look for the green and red colors to be next to or wrapped around each other in a storm. The image below shows the green and red colors indicating rotation. This rotation lowered to the ground and produced what was very likely a tornado.

The threat for severe thunderstorms ended early Tuesday as a cold front moved by. Cooler temperatures arrived, but the focus for the next 36 hours is on the wind, and lots of it! As Mark wrote in the blog yesterday, this storm may end up being stronger than the storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald back on November 10, 1975 and also stronger than the November 10, 1998 wind storm!

Below is the surface analysis at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Notice the surface low of 965mb, or 28.50″! And the storm is not done intensifying! This ‘land hurricane’ will be comprable in pressure to a category 2 hurricane!

The storm is now going to be a wind machine for our area. A High Wind Warning is in effect for southeast Wisconsin through 7 p.m. Wednesday. Winds could gust to 50-60+ mph.

If you have storm reports or thoughts on this storm, please leave them in the comments section of the blog!

Stay with Weather Watch 12 and WISN 12 News for the latest weather updates!

Jeremy Nelson


4 Responses

  1. These types of storms are a great learning tool from an analysis standpoint. These are not typical supercells that are easier to detect tornadoes, rather linear with strongly rotating updrafts and immense wind support. They are hard to see on radar and often do just pop up and dissipate.

    Often late fall and early spring storms are of this variety. These clearly are a function of sheer rather than instability. Certainly as it seems the team was alerting – when storms are moving 70mph, high winds are almost guaranteed.

    This is an amazing storm and certainly quickly becoming historic due to its intensity, scope, and breadth of impact. I am sure we will be getting more idea of how bad it was as hours, days and weeks unfold.

    • Almost impossible to get a warning out in a timely manner with a tornado developing in this evironment. A Tornado Watch was in place, and Racine county was under a Severe T-Storm Warning when the tornado hit. At the bottom of the warning statement it almost always says tornadoes can form with little to no warning.

      This storm has already beat the pressure from the storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald back in 1975…a very famous Great Lakes Storm.


  2. Just a question….how strong was the storm last December that went right over Milwaukee and produced 18 inches of snow in parts of Dane County?

    • The lowest pressure last December was the early month storm with ~984 mb. That is considered a pretty deep storm. This one is insanely low pressure.

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