Rib Mountain, WI tornado, Sept 1984


Special to The Journal, AP

A tornado destroyed at least two houses and damaged 10 others in the Town of Rib Mountain just south of Wausau Monday night but missed by about a quarter mile a dormitory in the Wausau School District Forest where some 70 sixth-graders were spending the night.

Other high winds caused damage that closed schools Tuesday at the Sauk City - Prairie du Sac area some 150 miles south.

Other areas reported high winds, hail, heavy downpours and lightning.

The overnight rainfall at Milwaukee's Mitchell Field measured 1.09 inches, as of 7 a.m. Tuesday. No major damage was reported, but some power failures were reported in the Milwaukee area, particularly in northestern suburbs, early Tuesday.

Scattered frost is forecast for southeastern Wisconsin Tuesday night, with a Wednesday high temperature in the Milwaukee area only in the upper 50s. Milwaukee temperatures are expected to climb into the 60s Thursday.

Marathon County authorities said no injuries were reported when the twister hit about three miles south of Rib Mountain State Park about 6:15 p.m., destroying homes owned by the John Blasenski and Bud Graveen families.

The houses were on the edge of an area known as Nine Mile Swamp, a popular deer hunting area. Graveen was in the woods near his home with a bow and arrow hunting deer.

"I saw the funnel," Graveen, a building contractor, said. "I ran into the house and hustled my wife, Sue, and the children into the basement." The Graveens have two children, Stacey, 11, and Jessie, 7. The Graveens had lived in the house less than a year.

Blasenski, a salesman, was with a customer in Wausau when he heard a report of the tornado and rushed home.

Blasenski said his family was lucky.

"My daughter, Chris, was having a swim class at school and my wife, Norma, was off to pick her up. My son, Chip, was with the city's sixth-graders at the school forest." Chris Blasenski is 15 and Chip is 11.

Along with Chip, there were some 70 other Town of Rib Mountain sixth-graders at the school forest dormitory. They were herded into the dormitory basement without harm, according to teacher Gene Nelson.

The forest and dormitory are about a quarter of a mile due south of the stricken area.

Sgt. Harvey Woodward of the Sheriff's Department said the tornado barely missed the Deer Trail Trailer Park, which had about two dozen or more mobile homes in it.

"About 300 yards farther was the mobile home court, but it just missed, thank heaven," he said.

There were unconfirmed reports of tornados 18 miles south of Rhinelander in Oneida County and along the Wolf River south of Shawano where a building was damaged.

Farther south, strong winds damaged roofs and downed trees and utility lines in the Sauk City-Prairie du Sac area about 20 miles northwest of Madison.

Jerry Jones, superintendent of the Sauk-Prairie School District that serves Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, said classes would be canceled Tuesday because of damage to school buildings.

The middle school roof was damaged, as was part of the high school roof in the area of the swimming pool, Jones said, and there was water damage to an elementary school.

Sauk County authorities said the Maplewood Nursing Home in Sauk City suffered some wind damage and a woman resident had been hospitalized with minor injuries when the wind broke windows in her room. Her name was not available.

The Richland County Fairgrounds sustained wind damage, with the roof lifted off its wooden grandstand.

The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI, 25 Sept 1984