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April 27, 1984 - Wales, Wisconsin F4 Tornado

A deadly April F4 tornado wreaks havoc in Wales, Wisconsin killing 1 person, injuring 14 and causing major damage.

Wisconsin Tornado Outbreak

My first storm chasing experience and ultimately the beginning of why I became fascinated with meteorology happened April 1984. As a young boy at the age of 4, the story has it that I saw a strange looking cloud out the front window to the west over Wales. I ran out the door, stood in the cul-de-sac watching a developing tornado approach from the western sky. My mother quickly followed suit.

As the tornado drew closer towards the western city limits of Waukesha, the whole neighborhood came outside from their homes to witness the spectacle. There was an anxiety not knowing if it (2-3 miles west of us) was en route to where we all lived. Mom and I quickly ran back inside to take shelter in the basement in the southwest corner. Luckily, the April twister dissipated before it reached our neighborhood, but the extensive damage in Wales had been done.


Wales, Wisconsin F4 Tornado - April 27, 1984

This tornado was on the ground for 10 minutes but was one of the strongest to hit Waukesha County Wisconsin as it was rated an F4. It caused major damage on the eastern side of the village of Wales destroying a farm, mobile home on highway 18 | G and destroyed houses in the expensive Dover Bay subdivision. Unfortunately, the Wales tornado caused 1 death and injured 14 people.

These photos were provided by a friend back in high school. Her father took these pictures from Genesee, Wisconsin facing to the northwest. Analyzing the photos, the tornado's structure was very unique. The tornado appeared to form from a high-based thunderstorm which can happen but is more unusual. Usually they have a better time developing when the cloud bases are lower to the ground. The tornado also appears to arc back toward the ground from right to left which indicates a very fast storm motion to the northeast and more than adequate wind shear in the atmosphere.

To this day, many Waukesha residents still talk about this twister and where they were when it happened. Since it developed from a high based thunderstorm the tornado was very visible from 10-15 miles away .

April 27, 1984 Wisconsin Tornado Outbreak Resources:



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Wales, Wisconsin - Tornado Photos:


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