Wisconsin’s first February tornadoes rated EF1 and EF2

The National Weather Service has done a storm damage survey for the supercell thunderstorm that spawned Wisconsin’s first ever recorded February tornado Friday in the southern part of the state.

The survey shows 2 tornadoes dropped down from the storm between 5:12 PM and 6:17 PM.

Prior to 2024, the state of Wisconsin had never documented a tornado in the month of February. On the evening of February 8th, 2024, a rare, impressive setup for severe weather came together across southern Wisconsin. As a dynamic low tracked northeast across the Upper Mississippi Valley, a warm front spread across the state of Wisconsin. Within the warm sector, afternoon sunshine allowed surface heating and instability to develop.

Along with the increasing instability, the dynamic system brought a plethora of deep-layer and low-level wind shear, or a change in direction and speed with height. The impressive shear profiles led to concerns for the development of rotating storms that would be capable of producing large hail and a few tornadoes. And produce they did.

A cluster of storms formed in northern Illinois and moved northeast into Wisconsin. One storm in particular really got its act together and created a mesocyclone, or an area of long-lived, broad rotation within the storm. Its these mesocyclones that often produce tornadoes.

As the storm moved along, the first tornado warning from it was issued for Lafayette and Green Counties.

At 5:12 PM a tornado was confirmed on the ground in Green County one mile northwest of Juda along Highway 11 and tracked to the northeast to about two miles southeast of Albany.

The National Weather Service rated this tornado an EF1 and said it was on the ground for 14 minutes and covered a distance of 8.35 miles.

As the storm continued, another tornado formed at 5:41 PM three miles south of Evansville. This tornado intensified to a strong EF-2 east of Evansville, tracked just north of Edgerton, and ended about three miles west of Fort Atkinson. The tornado covered an astonishing 24 1/2 miles tracking through Rock, Dane and Jefferson Counties for 36 minutes.

No injuries were reported with either tornado, but several buildings were damaged.