The National Weather Service determined, via a storm damage survey, that a tornado occurred to the southwest of Solon Springs, Wisconsin in Douglas County. This tornado was rated an EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with estimated peak winds between 120 and 130 mph. This was the first tornado in Douglas County, Wisconsin since 1998.
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The first damage was observed along east Leusman Road, where minor tree damage had occurred. Additional minor tree damage was visible extending to the north-northeast from the road.
The intensity of the tornado then greatly increased as it approached Bill Ramel Road. Two properties along Bill Ramel Road sustained significant damage. On the first property, a manufactured home was shifted 20 to 30 feet off its foundation, and rotation about 30 degrees from its original orientation. part of the side of the structure was removed, as well as portions of the roof. Another large metal shed had sections of the roof removed. Several other small outbuildings were destroyed, and most trees on the property were uprooted. Some windows on a house were blown in. Winds at this location were estimated around 100 mph.
The second property, just to the north along Bill Ramel Road, sustained the most significant damage on the tornado path. A wood frame house was completely destroyed, with debris lofted a considerable distance downstream. Some parts of the structure were found about 1/3 mile to the north behind a neighboring house. The lack of other equally significant damage indicators suggests that the structure failed at a lower wind speed than would be normally expected. The south wall of the house had collapsed forward, but remained in tact, while the remainder of the walls and structure appear to have slid off the foundation before being pulverized by the combination of strong winds and airborne debris.
Trajectories of various objects further confirmed the presence of a tornado. Some of the airborne debris had gouged out narrow marks in the groudn, about an inch or two wide, an inch or two deep, and several feet long. A parked car near the house was found in the same spot, but it had been spun. Tree damage near the house consisted of a large stand of trees almost entirely snapped and uprooted, although trees 40-50 yards west of the house, just outside the damage path, only sustained very minor damage. The combination of damage indicators on this property suggest winds peaked at 120 to 130 mph, or in the upper end of the EF2 range.
On the next property to the north, just across Ramel Road, and to the west of Ferguson Road, many trees were uprooted. A window on the house was blown in, and an antenna was snapped. Just to the east of this house, along Ferguson Road, significant tree damage was found. This included a large tree that was well known to residents of Solon Springs, and was a few feet wide at the base of the trunk.
Tree damage continued to be noted for an additional 1.4 miles to the northeast, but no other structures were impacted. The tornado ended near County Highway A, to the west of Solon Springs.
It should be noted that the damage near the Solon Springs Airport was not associated with this tornado, and other tree damage around the area was associated with straight-line winds. The tornado damage path was narrow and distinct, and included only the areas previously mentioned.
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was first issued for the Solon Springs area at 7:08pm CDT. This was replaced with a Tornado Warning that was issued at 7:30pm CDT. The tornado struck between 7:51pm CDT and 7:54pm CDT.
The last tornado to strike Douglas County was on August 23, 1998 when a F0 tornado briefly touched down just north of Maple. The last strong tornado (rated EF2 or higher) to strike Douglas County was on September 3, 1980 in the northern part of the county.
Here are several radar images from around the time that the tornado formed southwest of Solon Springs. Both are from 7:51pm CDT and the NWS Duluth radar. The image on the left is base reflectivity, and the image on the right is storm-relative velocity. The radar beam was about 3000 feet above ground level in the Solon Springs area.