June 18th, 2006 Stoughton, WI Landspout

This is going to be short, as I am reciting from memory. Living in Madison, Wisconsin, I had the luxury of the many lakes and rivers nearby to amuse myself. My father and I enjoyed fishing, while my sister and mother were more of the hiking sort. As I recall, sometime around June 10, 2006 (probably not that date, but close to it) we had a severe weather setup in southern Wisconsin. Tornadoes were possible, and as I was quite interested in meteorology at the time, I would always get excited at the possibility of tornadoes and severe weather.

On August 18th, 2005 one of Wisconsin’s largest tornado outbreaks on record occurred. 27 tornadoes touched down in the state that day, with the most significant and memorable tornado tearing through southeastern Dane and into Jefferson counties. This tornado would be long known in the area simply as “The Stoughton Tornado.” While the tornado did not impact much of the town itself, rural subdivisions north of the town were devastated. The large, slow-moving F3 tornado (initially in consideration for an F4 rating, quite a rarity in that part of the state) killed one person and injured over 20.

Quite ironically, I was visiting my grandparents near Topeka, Kansas that day, so I missed all of the action near my hometown. However, almost a year later, I would see my first tornado. The severe setup the day before busted (as almost all setups in southern Wisconsin do) and the next morning was comfortable and sunny. My family and I decided to go to Lake Kegonsa State Park, located on the north side of Lake Kegonsa. Stoughton is located on the southern shores of the lake. As my family arrived at the boat dock, as soon as we got out of the car, the tornado sirens began to sound their characteristic wail. When I heard the sirens, I noticed some cumulus towers across the lake over the town of Stoughton. Full of curiosity, I went to the dock to get a better look around the trees. I was astonished and amazed by what I saw.

Across the lake, under the low cumulus cloud, I saw a spinning funnel that was in its dissipation phase. I couldn’t imagine that it would be spinning so quickly. As we were northeast of the clouds, my mother decided we better leave the area. We packed back into the car and went to the southwestern shore of the lake to do the activities we planned to do before, and I was rewarded with a nice largemouth bass. Interestingly, the landspout touched down briefly, doing no damage, but it was in the same general area as the F3 tornado less than a year before. I began to wonder if that area was especially prone to tornadoes. Not much to tell about this event, but I consider it a turning point in my life. As I got older, my interest in the weather began to wane, until a tragic 11 days in 2013.

 

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