At least five tornadoes were reported across Wisconsin Thursday night as a spring storm drenched much of the state with downpours of rain and hail as large as 3 inches.
"Pretty much everyone statewide had their share of severe weather," said meteorologist Tom Helman. "This storm had it all."
Two tornadoes were reported in Marathon County and one each in Price, Vilas and Lincoln counties, he said. The National Weather Service had to postpone until Friday a tornado drill designed to alert residents of the dangers of the coming tornado season.
No injures were reported, Helman said.
Marinette and Oneida counties saw street flooding, and heavy winds downed trees and power lines throughout central Wisconsin, Helman said.
Krissy Bloedel, who lives in the town of Kronenwetter south of Wausau, said her property was hit by six pine trees felled by the winds, and 31 trees fell on her neighbor's property.
"It was pretty intense," she said. "Kronenwetter is trashed."
She drove home Thursday night from her job at the Cedar Creek Mobil Mart and said traveling the roads was nearly impossible. Trees fell on cars and homes, she said.
"I don't think it's really sunk in yet. When it gets to daylight and you can tell the whole damage it will be a lot worse," Bloedel said. "We've got a lot of work ahead of us."
Lt. John Fischer of the Marathon County Sheriff's Department said there seemed to be a number of small twisters along with flat storm winds that left power lines down, farm buildings collapsed and trees strewn on highways.
"It was pretty much the entire county from one end to the other," he said. "The storm system moved through slowly, from the north end to the south end, from west to east it caused a lot of damage."
Damaged structures included mostly barns and farm sheds, Fischer said.
There were widespread reports of heavy rain and hail accompanying the storms across the state.
The Lincoln County town of Tripoli reported 3-inch hail, Elroy saw marble-size hail, and New Lisbon's hail was about the size of a golf ball.
Some areas had flash flood warnings posted because of the combination of spring flooding and storm downpours.
As the storm activity developed, authorities were closely watching the east fork of the Chippewa River in the Glidden area for flooding, Ashland County Emergency Director James Hnath said.
The river had dropped slightly Thursday in Glidden, and the town had stopped its sandbagging operations, resident Karen Hill said.
"We are just waiting for the water to go down now," she said. "All the old people say the flooding has not been this bad since 1949. I have lived here 12 years and it has not been this bad."
Eight towns mostly in eastern Ashland County had road damage because of flooding, Hnath said.
Oneida County Emergency Management Director Ken Kortenhof reported Thursday several county highways and rural roads were closed because of high water. In Upper Michigan just north of the Wisconsin border, U.S. Highway 2 was closed between Wakefield and Watersmeet, authorities said.
The National Weather Service said Thursday's storm activity broke out in warm, unstable air ahead of a cold front. Three days of record warmth that pushed temperatures into the 80s and 90s was expected to end Friday and snow was forecast for parts of the state for the end of the weekend.
"That's Wisconsin in April," Helman said. "We go from 80s down to snow. It's a clash of the seasons."
Highs Thursday were in the 70s in the north to the low to mid 80s across much of central and southern Wisconsin. Overnight lows ranged from the upper 30s and low 40s in the northwest to the 50s in the southeast.
Friday's temperatures were expected to reach only from the mid 40s to the low 60s, according to the weather service.
Saturday will bring temperatures in the 40s to around 50 under partly to mostly cloudy skies, and temperatures early Sunday could flirt with the freezing point in parts of Wisconsin with a chance of rain or snow showers.