Southern WI storms, Jun 1981


The weather, after throwing tantrums all over Wisconsin Monday, appeared to have regained at least a modicum of good nature Tuesday. The National Weather Service was calling for cooler weather. scattered showers and temperatures in the 70s.

"All that nasty stuff has gone east," Glenn Wiley, weather service meteorologist, said Tuesday. It was last seen east of a ine from Cincinnati to Erie, Pa., Wiley said.

But Monday the weather service was busy recording tornados, deluges and high winds that caused extensive property damage and injured at least five persons in Wisconsin, including a Sun Prairie boy who was critically hurt.

Robert Cooley, 9, son of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Cooley, was sucked into a culvert by heavy rains. He was reported drowned, but police pulled him from the water after 17 minutes and some of his vital signs returned on the way to the hospital. He was listed in critical condition Tuesday at University Hospital and Clinics in Madison.

On Madison's west side, two teenage boys were sucked into a drainage ditch that suddenly flooded as they were riding innertubes. Onlookers kept the boys' heads above water until fire department crews arrived.

The boys, Andy Whitey and Scott Frey, both 16, were released from a Madison hospital after treatment.

In Evansville, two city employes received minor injuries when lightning struck an equipment shed where they were waiting out the storm.

Gordon Christianson, 20 and Patrick Schuch, 30, were listed in fair condition Tuesday at Mercy Hospital in Janesville after they were struck by lightning in an Evansville cemetery. Schuh's left foot and leg were injured and Christianson's left leg was hurt, authorities said.

Confirmed tornados touched down four miles south of Waupun a 12:35 p.m., at Lake Koshkonong at 2 p.m. and at Oconomowoc at 2:36 p.m. Unconfirmed tornados were reported in Beaver Dam at 2:55 p.m. and Lake DeNeveu three miles south of Fond du Lac at 3:05 p.m. Funnel clouds were reported near Plymouth.

Cottage Grove hit

In a subdivision in Cottage Grove east of Madison, a downburst daaged at least 12 homes. A downburst is an inverted tornado. Unofficial reports put the winds that plowed through the Nondahl Heights subdivision at up to 125 mph, but the weather service would not confirm that Tuesday. Edward Kroll, Dae County emergency government director, estimated the Cottage Grove damage at about $200,000.

In Madison, Truax Field reported that 2.59 inchyes of rain fell in less than an hour and three or more inches were reported in other areas of Dane County.

Water damage was extensive to many homes and businesses. The floor of the large American TV store on Madison's south side - one of the largest such facilities in the Midwest - was flooded with water about one inch deep and damage was unofficially estimated at about $1 million.

Water runs high

Water about two inches deep covered the first floor of the Madison Civic Center, and emergency pumps were put into service.

There were numerous reports of cars stalled on the flooded streets. In one case, a car stuck in a manhole when the manhole cover was washed away and some areas reported water up to the hoods of cars.

The Madison Police Department said utility firms had sent out crews to pump water away from utility installations and thus avert gas leakages or power outages.

Dick Griffin, Wisconsin Power & Light Co. spokesman, said eastern Dane County was hardest hit by power failures. The failures were the most widespread around McFarland-DeForest and Sun Prairie.

A tornado destroyed a barn on the Byron Peterson farm near Oconomowoc, leaving cattle in the barnyard unscathed.

Lorraine Petersen, 60, said she was inside her home when the storm struck. She said the barn collapsed and some machinery and wagons were damaged. No estimate on the amount of damage was made by Petersen. The Petersens operate a 134-acre beef farm.

Near Jefferson roofs were blown off homes and several barns and trees were down.

Farm hit a 2nd time

Tornados destroyed two farm buildings south of Waupun and cut power and uprooted trees near Lake Koshkonong.

One of the farms damaged south of Waupun was that of Elroy and Phyllis Harder, which had been damaged by another tornado April 4.

Almost all of eastern Wisconsin, from Dane and Sauk Counties eastward and from the Illinois state line north to Shawano, Oconto and Marathon Counties, was under a tornado watch until 5:30 p.m.

High winds overturned two airplanes at the Dodge County Airports about a mile north of Juneau. The Fond du Lac Sheriff's Department said trees were down in Eden, a house lost its roof in the Town of Empire four miles east of Fond du Lac and lightning struck a power substation in North Fond du Lac.

Wisconsin Telephone Co. said heavy rain had intermittently interrupted its microwave transmission of long distance calls south of Madison, between Madison and Waukesha, and from Waukesha to Appleton and Green Bay. Kathy Stumpe, a company spokesman, said no major equipment damage was reported.