Record Breaking Storm & More Wind

***Watch WISN 12 News for the latest on this record breaking storm!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 Blog! The massive storm that moved into the Midwest on Tuesday, shattered records here in Wisconsin and across the Nation. The intense Fall storm will continue to impact the area today with more high winds. In this blog we will look at peak wind gusts across southeast Wisconsin, the records that were toppled, and also what made this storm so strong.

Let’s start with the peak wind gusts so far across southeast Wisconsin. Outside of the Kenosha gust which occurred in a thunderstorm, the rest were a result of the pressure gradient.

  • Kenosha 68 mph
  • Sheboygan 68
  • Milwaukee 61
  • Elkhorn 59
  • Jackson 58
  • West Bend 55
  • Fort Atkinson 55
  • Elm Grove 55
  • Racine 54
  • Greenfield 54

A couple of days ago here in the blog we were discussing how this storm would ‘bomb out’. In order for a storm to ‘bomb’ it must see a pressure drop of 24mb in just 24 hours time. That occurred with this monster Fall storm. Below is a graph showing the pressure drop in Bigfork, MN. This shows the pressure of around 982mb at 6pm Monday dropping to 955mb shortly before 6pm Tuesday!

As the storm ‘bombed out’ over Minnesota the low pressure readings shattered records in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and for the entire nation! Here is a look at some of the pressure records that were set with this storm.

  • Pressure reading of 29.38″ or 961mb in Superior, Wisconsin. New WI state record!
  • Pressure reading of 28.14″ or 953mb in Orr, MN. New MN state record. Also the lowest pressure reading ever in the continental United States!
  • ***Both pressure readings comparable to a category 3 hurricane!***

The pressure reading in Orr, MN may be corrected upward a bit, but if anyone had a home barometer they may have been wondering if it was broken.

The surface map on Tuesday at 1 p.m. shows the storm at nearly its peak intensity. The low was centered near the Arrowhead of Minnesota with a surface low of 960mb. The black lines are isobars, lines that connect equal pressure. The closer the lines are packed together the tighter the pressure gradient, and the result is lots of wind!

A storm like this does not come along often, and neither do the perfect ingredients that led to the storm. A howling jet stream with a core of winds around 200kts was racing across the Midwest, creating a huge amount of lift in the atmosphere. Also, a large temperature gradient existed in the days leading up to the storm.

The storm will continue today as High Wind Warnings are still in place for southeast Wisconsin. Winds will hover in the neighborhood of 20-40 mph, with gusts around 50 mph. Use extra caution driving, and while working outdoors today. Breezy conditions will persist through Thursday as colder air sinks into the region.

Often the worst of mother nature can provide some beautiful scenes. The large waves crashing into the breakwater in Port Washington was captured in this photo from the U-Local section of If you have pictures or video to share, please post them to the U-Local section of The picture below was also shown on one of our WISN 12 newscasts!

This storm has been amazing, and if you have questions, thoughts or stories to share from this record breaker, post them to the comments section of the blog.

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


10 Responses

  1. Jeremy…quite an impressive storm. Too bad we didn’t have a foot of snow along with the wind. That would have been an impressive sight! It is a little after 2 P.M. up here in NE Dodge County, and as I was working on my computer all of a sudden I heard silence outside. I looked out and noticed that the wind has really subsided a lot, just a moderate breeze.

    I was really happy that the heavy layer of leaves under the large maple tree in the yard just disappeared…no raking! I was pleasantly surprised since the leaves were so heavily packed down after all the rain we had. I guess the wind gusts we had were strong enough to even blow those wet, heavy leaves away. You guys were spot on with this forecast.

    • Cliff,

      Just keep all the snow in Dodge county this winter:) Thanks for posting and watching our weather forecasts. I think overall we did very well with this storm, but tomorrow and down the road will present new forecast challenges and we will be up to the task.


  2. So how will this storm play out later in the cycle? It certainly won’t be as strong, but will it still be a significant storm? Are there any indications on the length of the cycle this year?

    • Robert,

      Good question. Think back to December of last year. We had two very strong storms in the Midwest, the first around December 7-8 and then another close to Christmas. Both of those storms played out again each time in the cycle, but the strength of the storms did vary. Keep in mind the LRC is a weather pattern theory. It is used to determine the overall weather pattern, and also to show where the long term longwave ridges and troughs are located. We use the knowledge of where the favored storm track/path will be located, and the storms that occurred in the first cycle to help make a winter forecast. Generally once we are 2 times through the cycle I can get a good idea of what’s ahead for the Spring and Summer too.


  3. “the first around December 7-8 and then another close to Christmas. Both of those storms played out again each time in the cycle, but the strength of the storms did vary”

    Jeremy, could you elaborate on when the storms mentioned did in fact play out? It would be appreciated as I’d like to compare my radar archive. For the fun of it of course…

  4. Josh – using a radar archive may be tough. You have to look broader to get a feel not just storm to storm or map to map analysis, rather the flow of the pattern and the movement of the long waves.

    Radar is great for storm mode, but due to other seasonal surface influences may paint a deceptive picture of the pattern.

    • lrcweather, I completely understand. I am not trying to forecast a pattern, I’ll leave that up to you. What I would like to do is compare the same systems that worked back around, on radar. Simply for my own entertainment.

      Which leads me to my next question, is there a list of specific annual LRC patterns that date specific storms and when those specific storms returned during that specific pattern?

      • Josh,

        Right now the LRC is a theory, so while there is research being done, there is no paper or list of cycles to point to for reference. I know this past year it was roughly 60 days, and others I have seen were 50-52, 42-46, ect. Early thoughts are this cycle length this year will be less than 60 days.


  5. Jeremy, thanks for giving me the cycle length. Coming into the LRC theory tabula rasa if you will, and with a little archived radar loop research, I am feeling the 2009-2010 LRC cycle length predictions were spot on. I am even more anxious, now, for the LRC cycle length predictions to come out for the upcoming season. Now this is entertainment!

    • Josh,

      It is exciting to watch the new pattern set up each Fall! Within the next month we should have a good idea of the new cycle length.


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