National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Overview

A powerful thunderstorm tracked across northwest Wisconsin during the early evening of 5/16/2017. The storm produced a strong, 83 mile long track tornado which affected 4 counties. The tornado first developed over southeastern Polk County, east of Clear Lake, then tracked mostly eastward across southern Barron and southern Rusk counties, to the southwest part of Price County.  One hard hit area occurred just north of Chetek, WI where high-end EF2 damage was found. The greatest damage that was observed occurred north of the Village of Conrath, Rusk County. A family home was completely collapsed down to the foundation and was rated EF-3 (140 mph). The remainder of the tornadoes path ranged from EF0 to EF1 with mainly tree damage, and occasional structural damage.

This is one of the longest track tornadoes ever to have occurred in Wisconsin since official National Weather Service records which began in 1950.

NEW (as of May 27): 

Use our interactive damage survey viewer to see data points, ratings, damage photos and other details along the entire path. The link is here: https://apps.dat.noaa.gov/StormDamage/DamageViewer/.  You may want to open this in a new browser window.  The front page will ask you to "choose office ID." Select "Twin Cities" and click OK.  On the welcome page, click on "continue." The next page will be a map of much of Minnesota and Wisconsin. In the upper right of this page, you can select a begin date. Use the calendar to choose May 16, 2017 and click on the filter button.  You can zoom in and out, but to see a specific data point or track map, click on the pencil icon in the top center of the screen. An "Identify Toolbox" pops up. Now click on the "Select" icon.  Now you can click on any point such as a triangle, circle, damage path or contour.  If you've selected a damage point, you'll see details of the data point as well as a thumbnail photo.  If you click on the thumbnail, a separate window will open with a much larger image.

Some notes about the data:  some areas paralleling the multiple vortex tornado had substantial damage from the rear flank downdraft, inflow winds, or other nearby downbursts, and where possible, these are indicated by the green circles. The damage surveys took place on the ground on May 17 and 23, the Civil Air Patrol conducted a flight over the entire damage path on May 24, and the state of Wisconsin utilized a network of drone pilot volunteers to locate an operator who flew drone missions on May 17, and who flew the drone again on May 23.  The drone photos are denoted by the dark red circles.  Unfortunately, photos were not taken over every mile of the damage path, so in those areas, we have relied upon the ground survey data.  As new data are provided, we will gladly update this map and refine this information.  If you have any pictures or video of the storm itself, particularly the tornado, please contact us at w-mpx.webmaster@noaa.gov or post on our Facebook page, or send us a tweet.  Many thanks to the Civil Air Patrol and to drone pilot Branden Bodendorfer of Marshfield, Wisconsin.

nws logo Media use of NWS Web News Stories is encouraged!
Please acknowledge the NWS as the source of any news information accessed from this site.
nws logo