MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Authorities confirmed Tuesday that three tornadoes hit Wisconsin overnight including one packing winds of up to 140 mph that smashed an elementary school near Madison and another that damaged at least five buildings on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus in the southwestern part of the state.
A “low-end” EF3 tornado, which can have winds of up to 140 mph, tore roofs from houses and blew down part of Country View Elementary School in Verona, the National Weather Service said. No serious injuries were reported.
In southwestern Wisconsin, a “low-end” EF2 tornado with winds up to 120 mph ran through the UW-Platteville campus, Wisconsin’s Emergency Operations Center said. The campus was closed Tuesday and only essential employees were told to report for work.
Roofs of two residential halls were heavily damaged, and there also was extensive damage at Pioneer Stadium, the school’s football and soccer stadium. Two large lighting structures were knocked over, one crashing across the bleachers. The concrete foundation underneath those bleachers moved “substantially,” UW-P Assistant Chancellor Dennis Cooley told the Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph Herald.
No injuries were reported on campus. While school is out, Cooley said people were on campus for summer camps, but all were ushered to safety. He said those camps have been canceled.
“We got a glimpse of what nature can do in a moment like this. It inspires a bit of awe,” Cooley said. “We were very lucky no people were in the way of that (storm).”
A “high-end” EF1 tornado with winds up to 105 mph struck near the Platteville Golf and Country Club, knocking down trees and tearing the roof off an apartment, the state Emergency Operations Center said. Five people were hurt by flying glass as storms moved through Platteville. One person was taken to a hospital.
In Madison, at least 29 homes had major damage and 150 had minor damage. Officials declared a state of emergency in Dane County to make storm damage recovery assistance available to residents who need it.
Storms caused major damage to at least 30 homes in Verona. Nineteen of those homes had so much damage that Alliant Energy said it was unsafe to reconnect the power until city inspectors could check the structures. Emergency managers said the north side of Verona and the southwest side of Madison suffered the brunt of the damage.
The Salvation Army set up a shelter at Memorial Baptist Church in Verona for displaced residents.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Davis said a tornado likely moved from Green County into southern Dane County shortly after midnight.
Madison Gas and Electric and Alliant Energy reported about 6,000 homes lost power in Dane County early Tuesday.