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Tornadoes rip through southern Wisconsin, Illinois sees strong storms

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Two tornadoes ripped through southern Wisconsin, officials say
  • State emergency workers are assisting residents in covering their damaged roofs
  • A bus rolled over in Illinois due to high winds, injuring three children
  • "Freezing rain and sleet" is forecast for north central and central Wisconsin

(CNN) -- At least one tornado ripped through Wisconsin, officials said Tuesday, as severe storms moved throughout the region, leaving significant damage.

The twister passed near Walworth County, Wisconsin, Monday afternoon, damaging eight homes, according to the National Weather Service.

State emergency officials suspect a second tornado may have also torn through the southeast corner of the state around the same time, causing heavy damage in Racine County.

The National Weather Service has not confirmed reports of a second twister.

"There was a lot of damage [in Racine]," said Wisconsin Emergency Management spokeswoman Lori Getter.

Several homes also sustained significant roof damage there, Getter said, as well as at least two homes in Walworth County.

"Starting tomorrow we're expecting temperatures to drop with a mixture of rain and snow," she said. "So we're having our people out there in these areas to help put up the blue tarp over some of these houses."

In Illinois, at least three children were injured in Caledonia, about 15 miles northwest of Rockford, when the bus in which they were riding Monday rolled over due to high winds, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm first hit around 3 p.m. (4 p.m. ET), knocking down power lines along a country road and hitting the village of Caledonia especially hard, said Boone County, Illinois, emergency management director Sandra Rogers.

Heavy winds destroyed the Caledonia town hall and one home, damaged another three homes and knocked out power to more than 500 residents, Rogers said.

Power lines were down near Caledonia, one business was severely damaged and a cracked grain silo was leaking grain, the weather service said.

The second suspected tornado in Wisconsin caused heavy damage in the town of Union Grove, about 30 miles south of Milwaukee.

Some 36 residents of an assisted-living facility there had to be moved after heavy winds caused structural damage and forced the facility to rely on generator power, said Lt. Dan Klatt of the Racine County Sheriff's Office. The storm also blew the roof off a building onto a nearby residence and damaged Union Grove's sewage treatment plant, he said.

The winds peeled shingles from houses and downed power lines, according to Klatt. He said he could not confirm that a tornado had struck. He also noted that the damage was largely confined to a path near highways 11 and 45 in the county.

"We're surprised by a storm of this magnitude: Typically, we don't see tornadoes in late November," Klatt said. "We just want to get people back to their homes safely."

Union Grove firefighter Kris Nissila said heavy winds overturned several semi-trucks, caused "numerous gas leaks," and "we have multiple buildings that aren't there any more."

"Right next to my house, there was a garage that was gone," he said.

The National Weather Service is forecasting "freezing rain and sleet" Wednedsay morning for much of north central and central Wisconsin.