A surprise, unpredicted wind storm created havoc in some areas of Dodge and Jefferson counties last week Tuesday (May 21), knocking down numerous trees, power lines and buildings.
The storm popped up quickly on what had been a beautiful spring evening, taking out anything in its path that wasn’t anchored down.
According to the National Weather Service, the wind gusts were reported across the area from 39 miles per hour (mph) at the National Weather Service Station in Sullivan, all the way up to 68 mph gusts in Oconomowoc.
The fast-moving storm was high on winds but produced very little rain. The rain evaporating generated the strong winds by creating a heat burst event, according to the National Weather Service.
"In a heat burst, all of the water in the sinking air is evaporated before it reaches the ground, and the air begins to warm before it hits the ground. The air rushes to the ground as a sudden burst of hot, gusty wind," the National Weather Service said in a news release.
The winds that barreled through the area left 4,800 residents in the city of Watertown without power and 21,000 residents in southeastern Wisconsin without power.
Numerous trees and power lines were down throughout the area.
The Townships of Portland and Ashippun were the most severely damaged during the storm, according to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.
A large barn was knocked down in Waterloo and power lines were tipped over and trees uprooted along Evergreen Road in the Town of Ashippun.
Among the farms experiencing damage was the farm operated by Todd Wendorf, Crescentmead Farm, where the family lost a huge heifer shed and two small buildings, throwing the debris against a grain drier.
Wind also tore the roof off a small barn and damaged the back of a garage on the property, according to Carolyn Wendorf, Todd’s mother, who lives in the farmhouse there.
She says, "I was at work at the time and my husband (Niles) called to tell me about the unexpected storm and all the damage it had done to the farm."
Thankfully no animals were injured in the incident and they had excavators on the farm quickly to clean up the debris.
Nearby the Peterson family also experienced damage when the strong winds picked up a quantset shed and rolled it, slamming it against another farm structure.