(FOX6 Weather Facebook photo) An EF-2 tornado passed near Evansville on Feb. 8.

Tornado strikes near Evansville on Feb. 8

Compiled by Jodie Seibert  |  Editorial Coordinator

A tornado touched down in Wisconsin near Evansville on Feb. 8. It was the first ever tornado recorded for the state in the month of February.

The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado was spotted just between Evansville and Edgerton. It was an EF-2, a tornado described as “significant,” with winds between 111 and 135 mph. This tornado took place from approximately 5:45 p.m. last Thursday until 6:15 p.m. The tornado is estimated to have been on the ground for about 30 minutes, covering about 25 miles.

After the tornado touched down in Rock County near Evansville, it tracked northwest of Edgerton and dissipated in southwest Jefferson County, just west of Fort Atkinson.

Just before the Evansville tornado, an EF-1 tornado, with winds less than 110 mph, hit closer to Juda and Albany. This tornado was confirmed to have taken place just before 5:15 p.m. on Thursday evening. It was on the ground for approximately nine miles over 14 minutes. Damage was reported to a number of structures, along with snapped or uprooted trees.

These tornadoes were part of a storm system that blasted across southern Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest that brought strong winds, as well as lightning and even hail. Two other tornadoes were also reported in Illinois.


RCSO offers updates

At approximately 5:50 p.m. on Feb. 8, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office along with the Evansville Fire District, Evansville EMS, Evansville Police Department, Brooklyn Fire District, Beloit Fire Department, Beloit Police Department, Janesville Police Department, Janesville Fire Department, Footville Fire Department, Fitchburg Fire Department, Stoughton Fire Department, Albany Fire Department, Verona Fire Department, Turtle Fire Department, Town of Beloit Fire Department, Brodhead Fire Department, Wisconsin DNR, Wisconsin State Patrol, Rock County Department of Public Works, Rock County Communications Center, SWEPT, American Red Cross, Mercy MD, and Rock County Emergency Management responded to reports of severe weather damage east and northeast of Evansville.

As units began arriving in the area, they verified damage ranging from minor to major to several structures and outbuildings and encountered debris closing area roadways. Damage to power infrastructure caused outages spanning from west of Edgerton to Footville. Minor injuries were reported due to the storm.

With the power outages in the area, a warming shelter was established at the Evansville Fire Station.

(Rock County Sheriff’s Office Facebook photo) An EF-2 tornado ripped a destructive path through Evansville and surrounding areas on Feb. 8. Many homes, properties, and belongings have been demolished by the tornado, causing some residents to be evacuated. All injuries reported due to the storm were minor. For property access and other non-life-threatening law enforcement needs, residents in the affected area should call the Rock County Communications Center non-emergency line at 608-757-2244. Residents should continue to dial 211 for damage reports and unmet resource needs.

The following roads were closed due to the tornado on Thursday: West HWY 14 from County M to County HWY H, County M from Territorial Rd to County HWY H, West HWY 59 from Tolles Rd to County HWY H, North Tolles from HWY 59 to HWY 14, North Wilde from HWY 59 to HWY 14, North Riley from HWY 59 to HWY 14.

At 8:57 p.m. on Feb. 8, Rock County Administrator Josh Smith declared an emergency for this event. Preliminary reports at the time indicated damage at several locations in and around Evansville.

All reported injuries were minor.

Many local and state resources have responded. In addition to the agencies listed above, City of Beloit Emergency Management and Public Information Officer, Dane County, Emergency Management, Wisconsin Emergency Management, City of Milton Police Department, Edgerton Police Department, Town of Fulton Police Department, Wisconsin Air Coordination Group, and Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team also assisted.

As of 8:53 a.m. on Feb. 9, Highway 14 reopened for eastbound and westbound traffic. Several side roads remained closed at the time due to debris and other hazards. Authorities asked the public to avoid auxiliary roads.

Evacuated residents were told at that time that they should not return to their properties at this time. As non-evacuated residents assessed their properties, they reported damage to 211.

Rock County Emergency Management and local partners conducted preliminary damage assessments and worked to clear the area.

All Evansville Community School District schools were closed last Friday “due to the storms and loss of power,” according to a Facebook post that morning from the schools.

Residents were asked to cooperate with damage assessors. The Wisconsin Air Coordination Group performed a flyover across the affected area. The Rock County Sheriff’s Office Unmanned Aerial Systems Team also flew drones to survey damage.

As of 12:34 p.m. on Feb. 9, Territorial Road reopened. Several side roads remained closed. These roads were marked by barricades.

A significant number of area residents and businesses were offering donations.

(Rock County Sheriff’s Office Facebook photo) Farms took heavy hits from the tornado, loosing parts of barns and silos to the storm.

A press conference was held at 3 p.m. on Feb. 9, at the Evansville ACE Hardware. Residents impacted by the Evansville tornado were encouraged to attend the Porter Town Hall Meeting at 5 p.m. on Feb. 9, at Evansville Fire District located at 425 Water St.

As of the morning of Feb. 10, all roads, except Gibbs Lake Road, had reopened. Local authorities scaled down the Command Post established after the Evansville tornado. Law enforcement maintained an increased presence in the affected area.

For property access and other non-life-threatening law enforcement needs, residents in the affected area should call the Rock County Communications Center non-emergency line at 608-757-2244. Residents should continue to dial 211 for damage reports and unmet resource needs.

Last Saturday, Rock County Emergency Management arranged for porta-potties and pallets of bottled water at Porter Town Hall at 8809 N. Wilder Road in Evansville, and Yahara Valley Elementary School at 8643 N. Raymond Road in Edgerton for residents and volunteers involved in cleaning up after the Evansville tornado.

On Feb. 11, at 12:45 p.m., local authorities received notification from electrical companies working in the affected area that Gibbs Lake Road would reopen sometime during that afternoon.

Over the next week after the tornado, residents should expect intermittent power outages on Highway 59, Caledonia Road, and Gibbs Lake Road as electrical companies conduct repairs in the area.

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office has received information about kayakers on the Yahara River and Badfish Creek. They have not had an opportunity to survey these waterways for debris and hazards. They strongly advise against paddling the Yahara River and Badfish Creek at this time.


Feb. 13 update

Just before press time, another update was released.

Rock County Emergency Management continues to conduct damage assessments using the FEMA Damage Assessment Criteria. The most current information is as follows.

Total number of residences impacted: 31.

Of those:

• Residences destroyed: 3

• Residences with major damage: 10

• Residences with minor damage: 11

• Residences affected from tornado impact: 7

The National Weather Service surveyed the affected area on Feb. 9 and summarized their findings on their website at www.weather.gov/mkx/FebruarySevereWeather.

Electrical companies estimate 28 meters are still without power and anticipate restoring those connections over the next couple of days.

A media briefing was held on Feb. 14 at the Evansville Fire District.

A community gathering for Rock County Residents impacted by the Evansville tornado will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Evansville High School auditorium, located at 640 S. 5th St. in Evansville.

Rock County Emergency Management and Rock County Sheriff’s Office remind residents to be cautious when hiring storm repair contractors. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has released tips online for hiring storm damage repair contractors: datcp.wi.gov/Pages/News_Media/20240209StormDamageRepairContractors.aspx.