Janesville55.8°

Gusts wreak havoc in region

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Catherine W. Idzerda
October 27, 2010
— On Tuesday, Wisconsin and Minnesota reached a record low barometric pressure of 28.22.

Also on Tuesday? Wind gusts reached 37 mph at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, part of the Parker High School roof came loose and a massive section of the oak tree in Nancy and Dick Hasse's yard came down on top of their Janesville house.


It's all related, of course.


The record low pressure, along with other environmental factors, sucked high winds across Wisconsin and Minnesota.


Gusts of 50 to 60 mph were recorded in Kenosha and Columbia counties, said Chris Kuhlman, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sullivan.


Here's some perspective on all those numbers:


-- Blizzard winds are at least 34 mph.


-- For a hurricane, wind speed is at least 74 mph.


-- 28.22 might also be a non-hurricane record low barometric pressure for the lower 48 states.


The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning that will remain in effect until 7 p.m. today.


Today's winds will range from 25 to 40 mph with potential gusts of 50 to 60 mph.


Those wind speeds are high enough to blow down tree branches and possibly trees. Power lines could also be brought down by falling branches, and trash cans and other outdoor items also will be blown about.


High profile vehicles, such as mobile homes and vans, will be buffeted by strong winds, especially on north-south roads, the weather service said.


In Janesville, a man on Harding Street was struck by a flying object, possibly a trash can lid. The impact knocked him into his grill. He was transported to Mercy Hospital.


Rock County's 911 dispatch center took about 70 wind-related calls, said Brian Becker, dispatch supervisor. Most of the calls had to do with trees in the road, wires arching or wires down.


In Walworth County, police and school officials reported that high winds and horizontal rain damaged trees and utility electric poles and knocked down power lines. But there was no report of any major structural damage.


An upside was the plethora of huge and richly colored rainbows that quickly evaporated due to high winds and rapidly dancing clouds.


Whitewater Police Chief James Coan said of weather-related damage: "None here in Whitewater. Windy and rainy conditions persist, though."


East Troy High School Principal Rick Tennison reported that driving rain had leaked through the large windows of his school's atrium, but schools in the eastern Walworth County school district stood up well to the storm.


Gazette reporter Darryl Enriquez contributed to this story

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