National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Tornadoes in northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and southwest & central Wisconsin

Background Information
Statistics (1850-Present)
Records (1850-Present)

Vernon County (WI) Tornadoes*
Date Time Location Other 
Deaths** Injuries** EF-Scale
Month Day Year
7 18 2019 2242-2245 CST Bloomingdale 3.3NNE to Bloomingdale 3.4NNE None 0.48 25 0 0 EF0
A brief tornado touched down northeast of Westby. A barn was destroyed, a trailer flipped and numerous trees damaged. This tornado caused $40,000 in property damage. More on this tornado can be found at:
5 24 2019 1940-1942 CST Coon Valley 3.4WNW to Coon Valley 3.5WNW None 0.15 20 0 0 EF0
Trees were damaged when a brief tornado crossed Highways 14/61 between La Crosse and Coon Valley. This tornaado caused $50,000 in property damage and $5,000 in crop damage.
7 5 2016 0931-0933 CST Retreat 0.8WSW to Retreat 0.5SSE None 0.83 50 0 0 EF0
An EF-0 tornado touched down in rural Vernon County near Retreat. The tornado was on the ground for about three-quarters of a mile and damaged trees and crops along its path. This tornado caused $5,000 in property damage. More on this tornado can be found at
6 7 2008  1648-1650 CST Liberty Pole 0.4WNW to Liberty Pole 0.2N None 0.39  50  EF0 
  A tornado touched down about 1 mile south of Liberty Pole, WI in rural Vernon County. This tornado hit a machine shed and tossed machinery into the air in addition to hitting nearby trees. It was rated an EF0.
8 18 2005  1505-1540 CST Liberty 2W to Hub City 1W Richland 20  40  F2 
  This was third of 27 tornadoes to touch down in Wisconsin on this date (a single day record for the state). This was the strongest tornado in southwest Wisconsin. It touched down just west of Liberty (Vernon County), then tracked along a continous path just north of Highway 56, to the northern most block of the town of Viola (Richland County). Three people were reported injured in Viola and almost every tree in the town was damaged or downed. Most homes in the village had at least minor damage, while a few sustained major damage, including roofs blown off. Many garages facing west or southwest were destroyed by the direct impact of the winds. Wind speeds associated with the tornado were estimated at 100 to 120 mph. The tornado path became more sporadic as it moved east of Viola across northern Richland County. The damage path extended from just north of County Highway MM and Highway 56 into Bloom City (Richland County), which apparently took a direct hit from the storm. The tornado continued on an east-southeast track, before lifting just west of Hub City (Richland County). This tornado caused $3.3 million in property damage ($800,000 in Vernon County and $2.5 million in Richland County) and $268,900 in crop damage ($193,900 in Vernon County and $75,000 in Richland County). Vernon County was declared a federal disaster area.
8 18 2005  1446-1448 CST Esofea 3.2W to Esofea 2W None 1.2 25  F1 
  This was second of 27 tornadoes to touch down in Wisconsin on this date (a single day record for the state). It touched down just north of County Highway KK, or just west of Esofea. There was tree, agricultural and structural damage. A moblie home, which was on cement blocks, was completely destroyed. The occupant of the mobile home was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Another residence sustained minor damage, with windows blown out, outbuildings destroyed and a car turned 90 degrees. Power poles were snapped, corn was flattened and there was significant tree damage. This tornado caused $150,000 in property damage and $50,000 in crop damage. Vernon County was declared a federal disaster area.
7 26 2000 1520-1523 CST Chaseburg 3NW to Chaseburg 2.5NW None 0.5 30 0 0 F0
  This brief touch down caused minor damage to a home and knocked down nearby trees and corn.
6 18 1998 1607-1630 CST Retreat 1.5NE to Westby 5W None 1.5 120 0 1 F1
  A short-lived tornado hit a dairy barn near Retreat, killing five cows and injuring 1 person. It skipped along the ground and stacked trees together after its passage.
6 8 1993 1305-1320 CST Genoa 1E to Coon Valley 2S None 11 100 0 0 F1
  Damage to barns, radio towers, roofs, and trees totaled $250,000.
4 20 1992 1745 CST Hillsboro 2S None 2 25 0 0 F1
  A 40x50 foot shed was destroyed and a nearby garage and home were damaged.
6 5 1980 2020 CST Stoddard to Readstown None 20 ? 0 1 F3
  This tornado moved southeast from near Stoddard to Chaseburg, Viroqua, and Readstown. Eight residences, 30 barns, and 200 other rural structures were damaged or destroyed by the tornado and its accompanying downburst winds. The injury occurred when a trailer was destroyed.
6 5 1980 2010 CST St. Joseph 2S to Coon Valley 1W La Crosse 3 70 0 0 F2
  Several barns and four homes were damaged. One home was unroofed. One barn was destroyed and nine cattle were killed.
8 9 1979 1730-1736 CST Hillsboro to Wonewoc 1S Juneau 9 50 0 0 F2
  This tornado moved east and lifted just south of Wonewoc. A plane was destroyed, and barns and homes were damaged; some were leveled.
7 1 1978 1902 CST near Viroqua None 0.5 100 0 0 F1
  The final of three tornadoes sighted on the ground near Viroqua. 
7 1 1978 1902 CST near Viroqua None 0.5 100 0 0 F1
  The second of three tornadoes sighted on the ground near Viroqua. 
7 1 1978 1902 CST near Viroqua None 0.5 100 0 0 F1
  The first of three tornadoes sighted on the ground near Viroqua. 
1830 CST
West Lima 5W
   The public reported a tornado about 5 miles west of West Lima.
8 6 1968 1958 CST Viroqua 15NE None 0.5 ? 0 0 F0
   Brief touch down 15 miles northeast of Viroqua.
8 6 1968 1950 CST Viroqua 14SE None 14.9 ? 0 0 F0
   Brief touch downs south-southwest and 14 miles southeast of Viroqua.
6 8 1967 2330 CST Mt Tabor 1.5E to Union Center Juneau 8.7 75 0 0 F1
   A small tornado traveled east for about 8 miles starting 1.5 miles east of Mt. Tabor to Union Center.
3 31 1967 0005 CST Westby None 1.9 200 0 0 F1
   A tornado travelled north-northeast west of Westby
4 19 1966 2215-2230 CST Hillsboro 1.5W to Elroy Juneau 8.6 10 0 0 F2
5 8 1964 1730 CST Readstown 2E to Hillsboro 3W Richland 35 300 0 2 F2
  This tornado tracked northeast from east of Readstown to 2 miles south of Viola, to 3 miles northwest of Yuba, to west of Hillsboro. Two people were injured in Richland County. Barns were leveled.
9 19 1957 1230 CST Hillsboro None 4.1 165 0 0 F1
4 26 1935 1800 CST Viroqua 5W None 5 100 0 0 F2
  Moving east, this tornado removed parts of a roof off a house at the edge of Viroqua and debris was carried a half mile into town. Several buildings, including three barns, were destroyed on six farms. Estimated damage was $20,000.
5 23 1933 1500 CST Reno 5S to Sparta Houston
La Crosse
35 100 0 3 F2
  A family of two or three small tornadoes moved northeast from the southeast corner of Houston County, passing 3 miles south of Coon Valley and ending near Sparta. Two tornadoes may have actually crossed the Mississippi River. A dozen barns and farm houses were unroofed, mostly near Coon Valley.
5 1 1930 2015 CST Westby None 5 100 1 11 F2
  Losses in the business district were about $100,000 as 35 buildings were damaged or destroyed. A nine-year old boy was killed by a flying store front as he ran for home.
10 10 1913 1330 CST Soldiers Grove 2W to Mauston Crawford
45 400 0 0 F2
  This tornado, which moved across 4 counties, was part of a complex of tornadoes and downbursts produced about $300,000 in property losses. Starting in Crawford County, this tornado tracked northeast through Richland, Vernon, and Juneau counties. Many barns were destroyed south of Soldiers Grove (Crawford County). Five homes were destroyed and over 100 more were damaged in the northwest part of Mauston (Juneau County) before the tornado lifted.
6 7 1908 1530 CST Hillsboro to Mauston 3SE Juneau 17 50 2 3 F3
  About 4 miles south of Mauston (Juneau Co.), a farmer and his son were killed as their entire farm was nearly swept away. The family was hit as they ran for the storm cellar. It was moving northeast.
6 6 1906 1630-1830 CST Burr Oak, IA to Stoddard, WI to Coon Valley 10NE Fillmore (MN), Houston (MN), La Crosse (WI), Vernon (WI), Winneshiek (IA) 55 400 4 18 F4
  "The tornado was flrst observed in northeastern Iowa at 430 pm, near Burr Oak. A large brick home was destroyed southeast of Newhouse (Houston County.), just inside the Minnesota border. Clothes from the home were found over three miles away. One boy was severely injured, and may have died later. He had been closing windows on the second floor when the tornado struck. This tornado then continues east-northeast to near Reno, MN, and Stoddard, WI where it crossed the Mississippi River at 5:40 pm. It was last observed at 6:30 pm in the town of Washington, La Crosse County, WI, about 2 miles west of Portland. Its path curved slightly to the northward as it progressed, and was about 55 miles in length. It destroyed all buildings in its path, killed 4 persons and injured 18. A mother and two children were killed as their farm near Freeburg, MN was leveled. One child was carried about half a mile. The other death occurred 2 miles east of Stoddard. The property loss was estimated at $70,000, exclusive of timber and crops, but the latter were not damaged to any great extent, because they were not far advanced. The tornado was characterized by many peculiar and violent phenomena usual to these storms. There was comparatively little electrical display, nor was the rainfall unusual. Its crossing the river near Stoddard was marked by well defined waterspout formation, and it destroyed a heavy wooden railway bridge across the Raccoon Creek nearby. Its action on the steep bluffs and in the deep ravines that mark the banks of the river was peculiar in that the windward or southwest exposures suffered far less damage, as shown by prostrated timber, than did the northeast slopes, where the full vorticular effect was very evident; whereas the southwest slopes, instead of showiug trees thrown in all directions, as is usual, showed trees, with few exceptions, thrown to the left across the entire breadth of the track. Many of the trees on these southwest slopes were broken off 10 to 15 feet above the ground. Another peculiar feature was the decreased violence on the top of the bluffs, which are here about 400 feet above the valley, and the immediate resumption of full destructive effect, not only in the deep ravines, but on the lee side of steepest declivities. Such destruction as occurred on the tops of steep hills crossed by the storm was most apparent on the farther edge, where trees invarlably were thrown in the direction of the storm, probably caused by the air rushing toward the vortex when it had resumed full violence at lower levels. The path of the storm averaged about 400 yards wide where its action could be determined in the timber. The vortex was quite distinct and regular, and, compared with the height of the bluffs which it crossed, seemed about 800 feet high, rapidly widening at the top. The vorticular motion was plainly discernible. Hail fell on the northwest side of the track. It took something less than 2 hours to travel its course." Source: Monthly Weather Review, Volume 34, Issue 6 (June 1906)
1300 CST
6 27 1882 ? Cashton None ? ? 0 1 F2
  Two homes were destroyed south of Cashton.
6 28 1865 1600 CST Viroqua to just south of Rockton None 30 300 22 100 ?
  Moved east northeast from southwest of Viroqua (devastating the southern part of that town) and then moved south of Rockton before dissipating to a six-mile wide downburst near the Juneau County line.  Approaching Viroqua, the funnel was accompanied by a "branch whirl holding on like a parasite."  Multiple vortex "branches" and "eddies" were observed as the tornado passed through the town.  "Death rode upon that sulphury siroc" as "the angry elements at the beck of an invisible power lay waste the fairest portion of the village."  Ten people were killed on one street.  A death total of 17 is usually given for this tornado, but according to the History of Vernon County at least 13 people were killed in Viroqua and as many as 12 others may have died later from injuries.  The tornado was moving at an estimated 60 mph, as it approached a schoolhouse 2 miles east of Viroqua containing a teacher and 24 students.  The building was lifted into the air "and dashed to ground", killing the teacher and eight students.  Foot-square timbers were carried "long distances; tree tops were filled with feather beds, chairs, and clothing.  All kinds of livestock were either dead or writhing on the points of broken branches; 20-ton rocks were rolled, lifted, and broken."
* The data in this table came from Storm Data, Significant Tornadoes--1680-1991 by Thomas P. Grazulis, and Wisconsin Tornado Database 1950-2000 Geographic Techniques Report No. ST-WTDB01.
 ** Injuries and Deaths are for the entire tornado track.

Last Updated Sunday, April 26, 2020 - Jeff Boyne