May 30, 2013 Gustnado in Albany, WI Area

The Albany area in east-central Green County experienced a gustnado during the evening of Thursday, May 30, 2013.  It was observed and photographed by several people and occurred just southwest of the village of Albany in the area of State Highway 59.  These people stated that the gustnado lasted only a minute or so.  The time of this event is not certain since different people suggested different times ranging from 650 pm to 8 pm CDT.

The gustnado was related to a line of strong thunderstorms moving northeast through southern Wisconsin during the evening of May 30, 2013.  Some of the storms were severe with damaging winds and large hail.  This gustnado may have amplified the general wind damage which occurred in the Albany area.  Tree damage was observed and some powerlines came down due to tree debris, and there was a report of a roof taken off a shed.

Below is a composite image of three pictures taken by Nicole Loomis which were forwarded by Jim Neumann, a trained severe weather spotter associated with the MidWest Severe Storm Tracking & Response Center, based in Monona, WI.  They observed clear indications that there was rotation in what appears to be a column of smoke. The top two pictures are of the gustnado.  The gustnado is not in the bottom picture, rather, strong thunderstorm outflow winds were picking up dirt and dust off a farm field and blowing them horizontally from right to left.

Albany gustnado Loomis/Neumann

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Below is another composite image of two pictures forwarded by Robert Ritter. They were taken by other people whose names are unknown.

Albany gustnado Others

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Gustnado facts:


  • Gustnadoes are not tornadoes.
  • Gustnadoes are ground-based vortices that form along a gust front and can have a height of a few hundred feet.  It does not extend up to the based of a convective cloud.  A gust front is the leading edge of the rain-cooled outflow of gusty, straight-line winds generated by thunderstorms. Low-level wind shear along the gust front leads can lead to a gustnado spin-up.
  • Gustnado wind speeds can reach 60 to 80 mph and result in damage to trees and other weak structures. They have been known to remove roof shingles and siding on a home.  The damage can equal that of an EF0 tornado.
  • Gustnadoes are typically wispy-looking and may look like smoke from a fire.
  • Damage associated with gustnadoes is classified as a Thunderstorm Wind event in Storm Data  and is used to verify a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. 


Kapela, WFO Milwaukee/Sullivan 


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