Oconto Falls, WI tornado, June 1979


Oconto Falls, Wis. - A tornado struck in a wide path north of Oconto Falls just west of Lena Saturday morning, leveling farm structures, tiping house trailers and uprooting trees and power lines.

The Oconto Falls Community Memorial Hospital said it had no reports of injuries.

Power was out in a wide area of northeastern Oconto County and parts of Marinette County. The Oconto Electric Cooperative said two substations were without power.

Authorities said the tornado followed a line northeast on County Trunk K, across County Trunk B and along Highway A, and was heading to Peshtigo. Six to 10 houses and many barns were reported down.

Power was out in the Pound area, northwest of Oconto Falls. Radio Station WOCO in Oconto Falls reported that power was out from north of Oconto Falls to near Marinette.

The Rev. W.R. Steffenhagen, pastor of three Lutheran churches in the Oconto Falls area, said he was monitoring police radio frequencies and that there were reports that three barns and four homes were down within five or six miles of the community. He said there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.

He said it appeared that there was one tornado that had touched down in several places.

At the Ronald Gretzon farm north of Lena, trees were reported pulled out, the top torn off a trailer and the door sucked in on an outbuilding.

Earlier, the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for counties from southwestern to northeastern Wisconsin. They included Pierce, Pepin, Eau Claire, Clark, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Juneau, Sauk, Vernon, Richland, Crawford, Grant, Iowa and Lafayette Counties.

Heavy thunderstorms were reported in northeastern Wisconsin in western Shawano and southern Marinette Counties. Another heavy thunderstorm was in eastern Vernon County.

An area of showers and thundershowers with isolated heavy thunderstorms was spreading in west central, central, and northeast Wisconsin into central Upper Michigan.

The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI 16 June, 1979