Southern WI storm, June 1978


Heavy thunderstorms, tornados, hail and winds exceeding 45 miles an hour whipped most of souther Wisconsin Saturday afternoon and evening, leaving one person dead and at least five injured, one critically.

Golfer Robert Lindgren, 28, of 10720 W. Fisher Parkway, Wauwatosa, was struck by lightning and killed on the 17th green at Currie Golf Course, 3535 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa. His partner, Lawrence J. Tatur, 25, 0f 7830 W. Lisbon Ave., Milwaukee, said the two had returned to the course in the afternoon to finish a game interrupted by rain a short time earlier.

An unidentified man was listed in critical condition at St. Luke's Hospital, Milwaukee, after he was struck by lightning at Oakwood Golf Course, 3500 E. Oakwood Rd., Franklin. Authorities would not reveal his name pending notification of relatives.

After the heavy weather in the afternoon hours, another set of tornados was sighted in the evening. At least one of those touched down, destroying a barn and metal shed on the Roger J. Wallendal farm in the Town of Burnett in Dodge County. Sightings of evening tornados but no touchdowns were reported in Grant and Crawford Counties.

Several roofs were blown off in Mayville in Dodge County Saturday evening, and State Truooper Brian W. McDonald said a window on his squad car was blownout by winds shortly after he sighteda tornado near Highway 41 and 28. He was not injured.

Also Saturday evening, a tornado was reported to have touched down just west of Watertown in Jefferson County, but it caused no damge. A funnel cloud was sighted near Lake Mills in Jefferson County, and there was an unconfirmed report of a tornado touchdown near Highway 60 in Ozaukee County.

Two campers were taken to Darlington Hospital, and another was injured when a tornado struck the Yellowstone State Park northeast of Darlington in Lafayette County about noon Saturday.

Spokesmen at Memorial Hospital in Darlington said Michael Anastasi, 61, of Beloit, was hospitalized in serious condition. His daughter, Joanne Anastasi, 29, was treated and released. An unidentified man suffered a broken nose but said he would see his own doctor, park authorities said.

Another injury occurred in a trailer camp near Waterloo in Jefferson County, where four or five recreational vehicles were blown over and other vehicls were hit by falling trees. A tornado report there has not been confirmed.

When the evening tornado hit the Burnett area in Dodge County, Wallendal said he headed for the basement.

"As I went downstairs I looked out the side window and the barn was gone," Wallendal said. Two cars and a tractor parked in the metal shed were undamaged, but the shed was found later in a field a quarter of a mile away, Wallendal said.

Lafayette County sheriff's authorities said several trailers were tipped over when the tornado struck Yellowstone Park about noon Saturday.

Douglas Morrissette of the Department of Natural Resources said 20 campsites were damged in the state park and there was "a tremendous amount of tree damage."

He said the 20 foot Anastasi trailer home, which rolled over, and six smaller camper trailers were total losses. Seven other camper trailers were damaged, as were three boats. Morrissette said one canoe "looked like someone took a sledgehammer to it."

The National Weather Service received several reports of tornadoes in the Milwaukee area. The Milwaukee County tornado sirens were activated at 1:43 p.m. and sounded until 2:15.

Golf ball sized hail was reported at Highways 100 and 24 in Hales Corners, and half-inch hail was reported at Mitchell Field on Milwaukee's South Side.

About 100 homes and businesses in Shorewood were without electricity for three hours after a tree branch fell on a power line. Another 100 customers were affected by a power failure in the area of 106th St. and Grantosa Ave. About 80 homes in the Washington Highlands area also were without electricity.

A Wisconsin Electric Co. spokesman said about a thousand customers in Whitefish Bay and Glendale lost power about 10 p.m. Saturday because of problems at the Fiebrantz substation at 1980 W. Fiebrantz Ave. The affected area is between Capitol Dr. and Silver Spring Dr. and Port Washington Rd. and Lake Michigan. Crews were sent to make repairs.

The Pecatonica River was reported rising at the rate of an inch an hour in the Darlington area, threatening numerous cornfields and a three block area of downtown Darlington that is in a floodplain. The river was still within its banks Saturday night.

The Kickapoo River was described as bank high Saturday night and flooding some low lying land in Crawford County.

Numerous windows in the Darlington business district were blown out, and a portion of the roof of a body shop at Ruhl's Chevrolet downtown blew off and landed on 11 new cars, damaging them.

Several barns and other farm buildings across Lafayette County were damged by the winds, and a corn crib was "thrown out onto a road," a deputy said.

In Dodgeville, a circus tent that was being put up for a performance Saturday night snapped from its guy ropes and collapsed Saturday morning. Although workers from the Franzen Brothers Circus were inside the tent, no one was hurt.

Grant County authorities said there was farm damage in the county, but no injuries. A section of Highway 81 in the county was underwater part of the day.

Crawford County authorities said mudslides hampered travel on Highway 35 in the Lynxville area.

The Milwaukee Journal, 18 June, 1978