The Severe Weather/Flooding Event of

May 31st - June 1st, 2000

What Happened:
Prior to May 31st, much of the upper Midwest was stuck under a stagnant weather pattern. A warm front was hovering over Iowa and Illinois, serving as the focus for most of the precipitation generation. A strong low level southerly flow continued to bring warm, moist air north of the front, with thunderstorm complexes forming during the night-time hours. On the evening of May 31st, this warm front had shifted farther to the north, over northern Iowa and northern Illinois. Thunderstorms developed north of the front early that evening, across southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa. These storms then tracked due east into western Wisconsin. A few of those storms became severe, producing large hail. Toward midnight, the influence from the low level jet increased and storms started to redevelop over southcentral Minnesota, and then tracked eastward over the same areas. These "training" thunderstorms dumped up to 7 inches of rain in about 12 hours. Flash flooding and river flooding occurred across the areas hit the hardest by the rain. Even though the rain ended by Thursday night, runoff from the deluge would continue to cause flooding problems through Saturday.

Map of the 24 rainfall.
Radar estimated rainfall image for the same period.

The warm front gradually pushed northward on Thursday morning (June 1), while an associated area of low pressure moved over southern Minnesota. With the warm front sliding north of the area, temperatures and dewpoints quickly climbed, helping prime the area for severe weather. The main kicker for this would be a cold front which trailed from the low. This cold front slid across western Wisconsin in the afternoon, and off to the east in the evening. The Storm Prediction Center issued a Tornado Watch around 2 pm that afternoon, and thunderstorms had already started to develop by then. With good instability, along with wind shear, the storms organized initially into supercells. The largest and strongest of these supercells originated in the southeast corner of Minnesota, and then tracked over northern La Crosse County, into Monroe County, and then moved more southeast over Adams and Juneau Counties in central Wisconsin. A couple "weak" tornadoes touchdowned in Monroe and Juneau County, with straight-line wind (microburst) and hail damage along the storm's path. The supercells gradually developed into a line of severe thunderstorms by early evening, and moved into eastern Wisconsin.

Surface map from 3 pm

Radar Images:

Some severe weather reports from June 1st:

Time Location Event
304 pm Cataract, Monore Co. WI Tornado touchdown, reported by Sheriff
342 pm Tunnel City, Monroe Co. WI 3/4 inch hail
343 pm Tomah, Monroe Co. WI 60 mph wind gust
350 pm 4 miles southeast of Oakdale, Monroe Co. 4.5 inch hail (softball)
403 pm Volk Field, Juneau Co. 94 mph wind gust recorded by AWOS
407 pm New Lisbon, Juneau Co. WI 90 mph wind gust
418 pm 7 miles east of Camp Douglas, Juneau Co. 100 mph wind gust and 1 3/4 inch hail
420 pm 3 miles north of Mauston, Juneau Co. Tornado reported by broadcast media


Cataract WI tornado - F1
Todd Shea, Warning Coordination Meteorologist
Picture of the tornado track.

A tornado touched down near Dallas Ave, 3 miles southwest of Cataract WI right around 3 pm. It moved east for 4 1/2 miles, lifting near county road B about 3 miles southeast of Cataract. Damage consisted of sheared trees, demolished barns and sheds, light house damage, tossed farm equipment and debris thrown about 600 to 700 yards. Preliminary Fujita scale rating on this tornado is F1, with a maximum width of 125 yards. Approximate time of the tornado was 302 to 311 pm.

There were no reports of injuries. Most people interviewed knew there was a tornado watch in effect and a few heard the severe thunderstorm warning issued for northern Monroe County.

damage picture

4 miles south of Cataract - shed damage

damage picture

4 miles south of Cataract - farm equipment tossed, sheared trees in background.


Oakdale/Camp Douglas WI Storms
Todd Shea, Warning Coordination Meteorologist

The same thunderstorm that produced a brief tornado touchdown near Cataract produced hail as large as softballs through the Oakdale area and communities southeast along the Highway 12 - Interstate 90/94 corridor.

There was extensive roof, siding and window damage in and around Oakdale in eastern Monroe County. Nearly every building in town had damage on the north and west facing walls. Hundreds of cars, including those traveling along the interstate, had broken windshields and sustained large dents. There were numerous trees and large branches broke or blown to the southeast.

Those interviewed said the storm hit around 345 pm and they heard the tornado warning. Some heard tornado sirens from Tomah or the communities to the southeast.

Similar damage was visible in Camp Douglas. Volk Field reported a wind gust to 94 mph at 403 pm with 2 inch hail falling.

damage picture

House siding damage to Oakdale.

damage picture

Damage in Oakdale.


New Lisbon/Mauston Tornado - F1
Todd Shea, Warning Coordination Meteorologist

A tornado apparently touched down 2 miles north of New Lisbon, just east of the Lemonweir River around 400 pm Thursday afternoon. It then tracked southeast for approximately 6 1/2 miles before lifting just east of Highway 58 about 4 miles north of Mauston. Preliminary rating on this tornado will be F1 with a maximum width of 100 yards.

Damage consisted of sheared or blown down trees, barns and sheds demolished, garages heavily damaged, and some light structural damage to homes. Harest hit were homes and farms along 8th Avenue north of New Lisbon, along Meredith Road north of Mauston, and along Highway 58 north of Mauston.

There were no reports of injuries. Nearly everyone that was interviewed heard the tornado warning for Juneau county via local radio and television, from outdoor warning sirens in nearby communities, or via NOAA Weather Radio.

There was also downburst (microburst) wind damage south and west of New Lisbon along Highway 80 and County Roads B and A. Downburst wind damage was also seen along Interstate 90/94 between Camp Douglas and New Lisbon with hundreds of trees blown down or sheared off.

damage picture

3 miles north of Mauston - Woodlawn Hills Subdivision

damage picture

Tree damage along Highway 58 - north of Mauston: end of tornado track

damage picture

Tree damage along Highway 58 - north of Mauston

damage picture

Garage hit along Highway 58

damage picture

Garage hit along Highway 58

damage picture

Garage hit along Highway 58: note the tools still hanging

damage picture

Rocky J. Squirrel can't out fly the tornado

damage picture

Tornado damage crossing Meredith Rd. north of Mauston

damage picture

Tornado damage crossing Meredith Rd. north of Mauston

damage picture

Tornado damage crossing Meredith Rd. north of Mauston

damage picture

Tornado damage along Meredith Rd. north of Mauston

damage picture

Tornado damage along Meredith Rd. north of Mauston

damage picture

Projectile from tornado

damage picture

Damage north of New Lisbon, near start of tornado track

damage picture

Damage north of New Lisbon


The Flooding
photos by: Pete Corrigan, Hydrologist WFO-DMX and Mike Welvaert, Senior Meteorologist WFO-LSE

flooding image

Austin area - flooding from Dobbins Creek at Intersection of 10th St. SE and Oakland Pl. SE.

flooding image

Austin area - flooding from Dobbins Creek in Dreisner Park. Water is about 4 feet deep in park.

flooding image

Austin area - USGS gage house on Cedar River south of Austin.

flooding image

Spring Valley - sandbagging...flash flooding from Spring Valley Creek flooded portions of downtown earlier that morning. Sandbags were left in place incase of another quick rise.

flooding image

Preston - south branch of the Root River. Water is up against leeve protecting the Water Treatment Plant. River level 935 feet (crested earlier around 938 ft).

flooding image

Near Lanesboro - vehicles crossing flooded road (MN Route 250) north of Lanesboro, where the Root River has escaped its banks. Not a smart thing to do. The gage reading at this time (LNEM5) was 12.38 feet and crested more than 4 feet higher than this. The road was closed about 20-30 minutes after this picture.

flooding image

Near Lanesboro - Root River flooding agricultural lands north of Lanesboro, view is looking east from MN HWY 250.

flooding image

Near Spring Grove - County Road 27 washout from Waterloo Creek south of Spring Grove.

flooding image

Soldier's Grove water over Highway 131 - road closed.

flooding image

flooding image

flooding image

flooding image

Gays Mills - flooding in the city. At the peak, water was flowing across much of the town right through the city streets.

flooding image

A crossing over the Kickapoo River at Haney Valley Rd. Located about 1/2 way between Barnum and Petersburg.

flooding image

Steuben - water crossing roadway on Hughes road, just north of Highway 179. The water is 3 feet deep.

flooding image

Water over Highway 56 just southeast of Viola. Also, crossing a flooded roadway is a VERY dangerous thing to do.

flooding image

Same highway, 4 1/2 hours later.

flooding image

Flooding of a park in Readstown.


USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.