This time it’s wind damage

August 28, 2018

Although some areas of Watertown this morning displayed extensive damage from Sunday evening’s storms that tore through the area, other parts of the city and surrounding countryside appeared as if nothing at all had happened.

In more heavily impacted areas, including the ridge that is home to the Octagon House in the city, residents were busy cleaning up branches and sawing up large, old downed trees. Even harder hit was an area along County Highway E near Pipersville and across the Rock River at places such as Rock River Paradise Road, River Road and Overland Drive. There, neighbors lamented the downing of massive old trees that were, in some cases, prime habitat for eagles, owls and other creatures.

“We think a tornado came down right down the river,” Theresa Lichtig told the Daily Times as she and her neighbors awoke and examined the damage. No tornado in the area was officially confirmed, however.

National Weather Service meteorologist Marcia Cronce said although heavy rains rolled through the area Sunday night and into the early morning hours today, it was fierce, straight-line winds that uprooted trees and knocked them to the ground.

“There was a main line of thunderstorms that came through Watertown and the surrounding areas that produced strong straight-line winds that measured 60-70 mph between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. yesterday,” Cronce said. “The second round came just after 10 p.m., when there was a mix of heavy rains, lightning and damaging winds.”

She said while damaging winds toppled trees in Oconomowoc, Jefferson and Watertown, there was possible tornado damage reported in Jackson in Washington County.

Cronce said meteorologists are headed to Jackson this morning to investigate the damage and to determine if a tornado did roll through the Washington County city.

Cronce said 1.7 inches of rain was recorded from 7 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. today at the Watertown wastewater treatment plant.

She said just over 1 inch of rain fell in Juneau with nearly 1 1/2 inches falling in Oconomowoc and just two-tenths of an inch in Fort Atkinson.

Dodge County Patrol Superintendent Joe Lechner said a couple of trees were down in Juneau because of the strong winds that went through the city, but nothing hit the city hard.

“We fared pretty well,” Lechner said. “We did have a few trees down, but there were no road closures because of them.”

In Watertown, three trees went down and several others lost branches in the 200 block of East Water Street Sunday night.

A tree on the property of Samantha Zalenski’s newly purchased home at 1504 E. Main St. toppled onto her neighbor’s home and three cars.

“It sounded as if my house was collapsing on itself,” she said.

The 40-foot tree fell sometime between 10 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Sunday night.

“I was with my son when I heard it fall and I just squeezed him tight until I heard my boyfriend yell to see if we were OK,” she said.

Back on Rock River Paradise Road this morning, Lichtig said she has lived on the secluded, rustic road since 2004 and she had never seen anything close to the storm damage of Sunday night.

Her neighbor of eight years, Glenn Schneider, concurred, as did another resident of the neighborhood, Jennifer Timmel.

“There’s not been anything like this here before,” Schneider said.

“When that front came through, it sounded like nothing I have ever heard before,” Timmel said.

Update hourly