The first tornado recorded in Wisconsin in February touched down south of the capital
A rare winter tornado touched down in southern Wisconsin on Thursday, downing power poles, downing large trees and damaging homes.
It was the first tornado recorded in the state in February, according to Taylor Patterson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Milwaukee. Records go back to 1948.
“This is a very unusual time of year for Wisconsin to be vulnerable to tornadoes,” Patterson said. “We were also unusually warm yesterday.”
Several thunderstorms also passed through Iowa and Illinois on Thursday. Dropping hailstones that ranged from the size of a pea to the size of ping pong balls. A tornado developed in northern Illinois during this severe weather event as well.
High temperatures were about 25 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal Thursday in parts of Wisconsin. More research will be needed to link this rare winter cyclone to climate change, but scientists expect warmer temperatures, more frequent extreme weather, and more extreme extreme weather as a result of carbon pollution driving up global temperatures.
“There is no clear way to determine whether climate change has contributed to this, but this is something we need to do more research into,” Patterson says.
Temperatures were so warm Thursday that they touched or broke records set since 1925. Temperatures reached 59 degrees Fahrenheit in Madison and 59 degrees Fahrenheit in Milwaukee.
A strong El Niño pattern will likely contribute to temperatures reaching record highs.
“When there is a strong El Niño signal, we are warmer than usual, which is what we have seen all this winter,” Patterson said. “We broke several records for high temperatures and high minimum temperatures as well.”
Patterson said there were reports of damage in Evansville, Egerton and Albany, rural communities south of Madison.
No serious injuries were reported, Patterson said.
It was not immediately clear whether all the damage was caused by one tornado or if several tornadoes struck Wisconsin. National Weather Service crews were visiting damage sites Friday to assess damage and rank the strength of confirmed tornadoes on the Enhanced Fujita scale, Patterson said.
“We won’t know the assessment of this tornado until crews finish surveying it,” Patterson said.
Rising temperatures are changing the risk and timing of thunderstorms and supercyclones Scientists are trying to understand how this will happen. a A study published last year in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society It was found that the risk of superstorms will increase as global temperatures rise. These storms will likely become more numerous in the eastern United States, but less in the Great Plains.
The incidence and “risk” of supercell storms will likely increase in late winter and early spring, but will decrease in late summer and fall as climate change advances, the study said.
“These findings suggest the potential for more dangerous tornadoes, hail, and heavy rainfall, which, when combined with an increasingly vulnerable community, could lead to catastrophic consequences,” the authors wrote.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com