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Nature's Fury
Severe storms, violent winds cause damage to region
storm 1
Violent spring storms with heavy lightning and strong winds hit across the Midwest on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. In southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois, trees were uprooted, power lines felled and roofs damaged thanks to winds exceeding 80 miles per hour in some spots, and localized hail the size of baseballs. Electricity and internet went out for thousands of residents. Municipal and county crews were notified the cleanup would last several days, and some homeowners in Monroe were told it might take more than a week to remove a fallen tree. - photo by Adam Krebs

MONROE — Violent late-spring storms kept southern Wisconsin and other parts of the country on edge as a fast-moving storm system smashed trees, damaged structures, and produced large hail but nonetheless did not appear to drop any tornados onto the region as feared.

Weather radios blared and families and pets headed to basements, as the storm system had an abundance of energy to feed off, something that forecasters had predicted for days — if not a week —before Tuesday’s storms.

County crews and city workers could be seen continuing to assess the damage in the aftermath of the storm into Thursday morning, including plenty of landscape waste and small items that were strewn about highways and subdivisions nearly everywhere in the system’s wake. 

Some of the straight-line winds were thought to be as high as 80 MPH at one point according to forecasters, and as the storm rolled southwest to northwest, it also dropped large hail. 

Pictures of nearly baseball-sized hail were posted in the Darlington and Belmont areas, with Lafayette County generally getting the most lightning and wind of the region. 

Power and internet were lost to thousands in the area, with a big concentration west of Monroe and south of the state line in Stephenson County. Much of the service was restored on Wednesday. Several state and county parks were impacted with tree and wind damage, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Thankfully with the storms gone, the humid and volatile weather of the past week has given way to cooler temperatures and lower dewpoints, however, severe weather was possible for Friday, according to forecasters.

With the storm still on citizens’ minds, the City of Monroe thanked is entire staff — from cops to street workers — for all the hard work they did to ensure the community came out of the weather event primarily unscathed.

“The Monroe Police Dispatch handled extraordinary volume of calls throughout the storm, and weather alerts were nearly continuous for our county and surrounding areas,” City Administrator Brittney Rindy wrote in a statement. “Even after the storm subsided, PD dispatch continued to manage a high number of service calls and extensive radio traffic.”

Street crews began clearing debris in Monroe starting about 8 p.m. and continued until nearly midnight, before starting again early Wednesday morning, according to Rindy. The same thing happened out in the county.

“Township personnel and Green County Highway Department personnel worked throughout the night in checking and clearing area roads,” said a sheriff’s office press release. “The western two thirds of Green County appeared to sustain the bulk of the damage, likely caused by extremely high winds.”

At one point the sheriff’s office recommended that residents reporting damage do-so at the United Way 2-1-1 Center in Dane County to keep lines open for emergencies. “The City of Monroe had multiple buildings that sustained damage and the Villages of New Glarus and Monticello also reported having damaged structures,” said the Green County statement. 

On the morning after in Lafayette County, the sheriff’s office posted a notice from Emergency Management authorities on social media encouraging residents to leave detailed messages about storm damage to the dispatch center.