Richland Center storm damage being investigated

Strong downburst may be to blame for uprooted trees, damaged property
Richland Center storm damage being investigated
Old O'Brien Factor in Richland Center after severe weather went through Wednesday night.

The National Weather Service has not made any official ruling but said widespread damage in Richland Center could have been caused by downbursts.

Downburst is a term defining intense wind from a mature thunderstorm.

Uprooted trees and roof damage at a local warehouse are clues meteorologists will use to figure out what happened during storms in Richland Center Wednesday night.

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service – Lacrosse office were looking for evidence around town Thursday.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Todd Shea said the damage at the scene is sending mixed signals.

“In most tornado scenarios it would not only damage trees, but as the tornado crossed the length of the building it would damage some of the roofing material as it continued on,” Shea said. “We’re just not seeing that in this case.”

Shea said it appeared most of the damage was on the front of the building, as if a significant gust of wind created some kind of collapse.

The warehouse site wasn’t the only place cleaning up. Across Highway 14, the Mobil gas station is picking up pieces of their roof that had peeled off, flooding the car wash with rain and causing extensive water damage.

Richland Center storm damage being investigated

“It basically peeled half the roof off up over the top, then it rained all night long,” said Station Manager Scott Goplen. “Our computers are all shorted out. We just found out the hopper is paying out quarters, so a good thing it wasn’t full.”

Shea says studying aerial photos of the area will give them more answers. He said they’ll talk to local officials, study the radar and talk to weather spotters and hopefully be able to determine what caused the damage.

“By understanding if it was a tornado or not, how high the winds were kind of helps us understand how to move forward with the next severe weather event.” Shea said.

About 30 Richland county properties reported damage. No one was hurt during the storms.