Downburst Caused The Damage This Week In Northwoods

Apr 12, 2017

Downburst damage
Credit Todd Shea, La Crosse National Weather Service Office (NOAA)

The state has declared next week as Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, but as Northwoods residents know, that severe weather struck us over the weekend. A meteorologist explains why there was so much damage.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Last in Green Bay says what hit the Northwoods was not a tornado, but a weather phenomenon that is also destructive....

"....the line of severe thunderstorms which moved through the Woodruff-Minocqua area, late Sunday night and Monday morning, those thunderstorms produced straight-line downburst winds which exceeded 70 miles per hour in some spots, which resulted in the downed trees that occurred...."

Some people speculated it was another type of storm that caused some of the trees to fall in strange angles, but Last says this is very typical of downburst winds....

"....that downburst hits the ground and spreads out in all directions which will cause the trees to lay out in different directions from the epicenter, if you will, from the downdraft of wind...."

A downburst is a strong downdraft which causes damaging winds on or near the ground. Last says it is not unusual to see thunderstorms and snow back-to-back this time of year...

"....not uncommon what produced those strong storms, that is a cold front, that moved through and allowed the cold air to move through a day later and we saw that swath of 3-8 inches of snow across the Northwoods...."

Power outages caused by the storms were down to just a few by Wednesday afternoon, according to the Wisconsin Public Service website.