“Like a Rocket”


July 5, 2016, a date our neighborhood will not forget for a long time.  The wrath of the storm seemed to focus on our Onalaska block.  The 10pm News started out with a Severe Storm Warning with extremely strong winds, perhaps going to a protected area of the house was a good idea. I remember asking my husband if we should go get my parents who live in a mobile home in Holmen (with no “protective area”).  He said there wouldn’t be time and within 1 minute, the storm was upon us.

It came out of nowhere,  very, very windy and very, very loud.  Our house immediatelimg_2121y went black…power outage (we found out later that one of our neighbor’s trees fell on the power lines). The dogs were going crazy and I remember looking out our picture window seeing our one tree’s branches and leaves were being pulled straight up.  It looked so eerie. But, it looked even odder as I looked across the street.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it looked so strange until I realized our 2nd tree was gone.  I could see our neighbor’s huge Weeping Willow downed, blocking the road, but our tree was not even laying down.  It was gone!

5-6 minutes img_2128later and the winds had pretty much stopped.  It was still raining, but just like a normal rainfall.  We ventured outside and saw all the downed tretrishas-tree-rootses.  My neighbor and good friend Trisha’s front entrance to her house was crushed.  Her gigantic front-yard tree had fallen on top of her house, crushing  the entrance way and going through her garage roof.  It was the biggest tree in our neighborhood and was very impressive.  Upon falling onto her house, the root system pulled up her front lawn as if it was a carpet.  The roots and draped carpet of grass were in the air about 8 feet high.  They made a fort-like structure.  If not for all the damage, it would have been a very cool sight.

Getting back to our missing tree.  The thing that was different about it was that it had not blown over as all the others had, it had been twisted out of the ground about a foot and a half down and shot upwards “like a rocket” as the little 3-yr old neighbor said.  It was then thrown tree-holehorizontally about 12 feet through my neighbor’s garage.  Ed said the branches stopped about a foot away from his cars, thank goodness.  That’s why I couldn’t see it out our picture window.  It ended up on the side of our house instead of in the front yard where it lived.

Even though it wasn’t the largest downed tree in the neighborhood, it was the one that had the most attention.  The next day the NOAA (National Organization of Atmospheric Air pressure) was at our house taking pictures of the tree and hole. We were never told if it was classified as a tornado, but something strange happened that night during those 5-6 minutes and we think a tornado explains it all.

Our neighborhood looks different now.  We lost 10 large, full-grown trees between six of our yards.  None of us have replaced any yet.  Who knows.  Maybe next year…maybe not.  At least no one was hurt!