July 18, 1996 Wisconsin Chase By Bernie Kopp

From: Bernie Kopp :

In my second year of being a ham radio/Skywarn "type" I was able to engage my
first supercell, and this one was a brute! Near classic structure, cyclic in
nature, very persistent and affecting multiple counties in Central and SE

First the LSR for this event,
Storm damage report

193 WWUS30 KMKE 190515 LSRMKE

1212 AM CDT FRI JUL 19 1996

            ....COUNTY LOCATION....

0707 PM    11 W FOND DU LAC          WI   TORNADO 07/18/96   FOND DU LAC

0711 PM    ST ANNA                   WI   TORNADO 07/18/96   SHEBOYGAN

0711 PM    OAKFIELD                  WI   TORNADO 07/18/96   FOND DU LAC
*** 100 INJ ***

0725 PM    BROWNSVILLE               WI   TORNADO 07/18/96   DODGE

0737 PM    CAMPBELLSPORT             WI   TORNADO 07/18/96   FOND DU LAC

0820 PM    BELGIUM                   WI   TORNADO 07/18/96   OZAUKEE

0840 PM    FREDONIA                  WI   WIND DAMAGE 07/18/96   OZAUKEE

1012 PM    BROWN DEER                WI   WIND DAMAGE 07/18/96   MILWAUKEE


Skip Voros WD9HAS (Severe Weather Coordinator/Net Control) for the Milwaukee
Repeater Club's 146.910 repeater has already described how the storm appeared
to us in SE Wisconsin. Thanks to his training and nuturing of us "newbie"
spotters we had an exciting (pants filling?) event that saw the Skywarn
community perform effectively and -safely-.

My brief review of my "chase".

6:30 pm Thurday 7/18/96

Television/NOAA Radio/Weathermation Terminal indicate strong storms
approaching Appleton/ Lake Winnebago area from the NW. At this point I'm
unaware this is a supercell and expect the storm to eventually subside and
exit well north of the city of Milwaukee over Lake Michigan.

7:00 pm Radar indicated meso reported and then tornado sightings begin to
filter in from the Fon Du Lac area.

7:20 pm Tornado touchdowns/damage confirmed. This writer finally makes
decision to get his butt off of the couch and drive north (from NW MKE). The
"Storm Wagon" is at least fully fueled and configured with a 2meter 50 watt
transciever, 2m HT to monitor secondary Skywarn Nets (we have two nets here!),
1,000 channel scanner, tone alert WX-Radio and yellow "Fire Beam" warning

7:50 pm Now at HWY. 41 and 60 near Hartford/Slinger area. HWY 45 would have
put me closer and immediately south of storm track (in Kewauskum North of West
Bend). This however would have forced me to drive thru the "core" in a
urban/suburban area. At this time I see the supercell for the first time
through the haze created by the near 90F temp. and 76+ dewpoint. After viewing
many "chaser" tapes I now see my first HP Supercell to my N/NE as it leaves
the Fond Du Lac area SE towards Northern Washington/Ozaukee County. I see a
massive heavily back sheared anvil, strong well defined cumliform updraft
column, flanking lin is well defined with many small towers defining the
inflow region. The outflow (SE) side of this HP supercell is heavily obscured
with heavy virga obscuring most features obscured including the downwind

8:00 pm HWY 41 and CTY D about 5 miles further NE provides a new freeway
overpass and visibility all the way out to the NW thru NE horizon. I can
clearly see the rainfree base. Very, very dark now and northbound HWY 41
traffic is stopping or leaving the freeway. Many wall cloud "wannabees" are
evident. Extreme stacato cloud to cloud lightening will be visible for the
next few hours. A constant and menacing rumble never stops from this activity.
The massive out- flow does not allow me to see the transition between the rain
free base and the back of the rain core. I decide to take advantage of my
position and view the majority of the rainfree base now to my N and NE and
report any wall cloud or funnels if they develop.

8:30 pm High winds, heavy rain (RFD?) and extreme lightening force me from my
lofty pearch on the overpass. The radios tell me multiple tornadoes are about
10 miles due east of my location. I'm being forced SE back down HWY 41 by wind
an rain and cannot maintain visibility. Travel due east is deemed unwise but
many other spotters are in the action area to my east. Light now is failing
and I do not wish to blindly plunge into a known active tornado region. At
this point I decide to disengage from the storm and travel SE back to my home
base on the NW corner of Milwaukee County.

9:30 pm The worst of the supercell is about to pass over Port Washington ESE
out to Lake Michigan. Other storms are creating Severe Thunderstorm Warnings
in Waukesha and now in Milwaukee Counties. I decide to get home and be with my
family before severe weather occurs at my home in northwest Milwaukee

10:10 pm Strong but not severe passes over our home. I deploy an adult
beverage and turn up the volume on the WISN TV-12 news. THIS JUST IN, THE
MOVING SOUTHEAST. At this point the writer spews 5 ounces of Milwaukee's
Finest Brew across the kitchen. I'M 3/4 OF A MILE SE OF THAT REPORT! AAAAAAGH!
Spotter Guy, Spotter Wife and Spotter Child spend the next two minutes in our
pre-planned basement shelter area experiencing a MAJOR KODAK MOMENT. Well...
after a couple of minutes -nothing- happens. My HT has Skip Voros WD9HAS
requesting spotter reports from 107th and Brown Deer Rd. A ham two blocks from
the area in question reports -nothing-. Spotter Guy (me) makes a mad dash on
foot trying to figure out what the heck is going on. No wind, no power
flashes, no debris falling from the heavens, no tornado or funnel evident
between cloud to cloud lightening. I make a rather hyperventilated report to
Skip at Net Control to that effect.

Was this a case of a local "Tee Vee" station issuing their own unsupported
warning? IMHO I think so!

-No sirens by Milwaukee Cty. Emergency Management -No tornado warning issued
by NWS Sullivan NWSFO (KMKX) -Two Ham/Skywarn types were " on scene" with -no-
severe criterea.

Why did Channel 12 air this warning when -NOBODY- in an official capacity
deemed it worthy of a warning or was even aware of this report?

The Sheriff does not report to Channel 12. How did they get this report? IMHO
did some scanner guy at TV-12 get a little overworked? Commercial media
-CANNOT- issue warnings! Only the NWS and emergency government have this
capability as I understand.

Anyway, Wisconsin endured it's first supercell of 1996. There were timely
warnings for all events and -NO- fatalities. God Bless all those affected by
the storm and may we wish them a speedy recovery. Also God Bless the 99.9% of
those people responsible for protecting the public with their superlative
efforts on Thursday!

73 Bernie Kopp KB9KEF
Milwaukee Area Skywarn Assoc./Milwaukee A.R.E.S./IL Multi-County System
E-Mail bkopp@omnifest.uwm.edu
2-meter FM Voice 146.910- 127.3 PL Milwaukee Repeater Club (Wx Net)
---------------- 146.670- 127.3 PL Milw./Waukesha A.R.E.S. (Wx Net)