Severe weather leaves thousands without power in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Utility crews have restored power to more than 138,000 customers following destructive thunderstorms that struck eastern Wisconsin this weekend.

But We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service say around 127,000 customers were still without power as of around midday Sunday.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Stevens Point remains the hardest hit area with more than 28,000 We Energies and WPS customers experiencing outages. In the Green Bay area, power was still out for 18,000 customers.

Matt Cullen, a spokesman for We Energies and WPS, warns that the extent of the damage could keep some customers without power for days.

The National Weather Service said Friday’s storm produced at least one tornado. Warning coordination meteorologist Jeff Last told The Associated Press that an EF1 tornado touched down in Marathon County at about 8:30 p.m. on Friday, demolishing a barn and damaging a couple hundred trees.

The same storm produced straight-line winds in Marinette and Langlade counties and Last said the National Weather Service has received reports of possibly thousands of trees down in heavily forested northeastern Wisconsin.

Storm survey teams were working to confirm whether other storm damage may have been caused by tornados, Last said. There were no additional confirmed tornados at midday Saturday.

The U.S. Forest Service said portions of the Lakewood-Laona Ranger District on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest were damaged. Several camping areas and trails were closed due to down trees and impassable roads

Mike Kapocius told the AP he was at his lake home in Elcho on Friday when winds began to pick up and “we were seeing the trees move in directions they’ve never moved before.” After a tree limb hit his patio door, his group took cover downstairs.

They emerged to see what Kapocius described as widespread devastation. Multiple trees had been snapped and roads were impassable. On Saturday, he and a group of guys used chain saws to clear the roads enough so emergency vehicles could get through.

“The devastation is just brutal,” he said.

The Trempealeau County Sheriff’s Office said the county fair was evacuated twice due to Saturday’s storms.

Two injuries were reported in the county: One woman in Galesville was cut by flying glass when a window blew in, and a man in the town of Gale was hit by a tree that fell into a camper.

The sheriff’s office said a fatal crash on Friday also may have been due to the weather, but that is still being investigated. And WSAW-TV reported that fire officials in Wausau are investigating whether a lightning strike caused a mobile home fire that left one man dead.