Severe weather, possible tornadoes cause damage in La Crosse area

Severe storms and possible tornadoes swept across the Coulee Region Wednesday afternoon.

The storms produced large hail, heavy rain, strong winds and possible tornadoes.

Employees at Red Pines Bar and Grill on Brice Prairie were getting ready for the dinner rush when the storm blew in.

“I’m still a little rattled about it,” cook Connor Todd said.

Todd said the storm literally took him off his feet. “I was already getting pushed back so I grabbed onto the post and my legs lift up and they’re all yelling for me to get back inside so I let go, run back inside, it was just crazy.”

“I thought I we were right in the middle of the tornado so I thought I was going to like die, it was all really fast, hard to remember everything, definitely really crazy,” said Todd.

No one was hurt, but the storm damaged nearby property. There were several cars damaged in the restaurant’s parking lot and a trees fell on a few nearby campers, including James Mollman’s.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Mollman said. “This wind just came flying through here, and I saw things flying sideways.”

Mollman was watching the storm from the bar and grill, but he said some of his friends were a bit closer.

“They were in the camper at the time,” he said.

In North Bend and along State Hwy. 54 near the Jackson County line, a lot of trees were down and some power lines, some blocking the highway making it impassable.

There were also several barns damaged in that area.

“It looks like there’s probably at least five that have been impacted,” Trempealeau County Sheriff Richard Anderson said.

Galesville Fire Chief Tom Peterson says the storm made for a tough commute on the highway.

“Between River Drive and North Ridge Road, there were trees down in the road and cars trapped in between the trees,” he said. “We got them cleared out and got them on their way.”

Peterson knew skies wouldn’t stay clear for long.

“We’ve got another round of storms on the way, so we’d like to get cleared out of here and get our people undercover as quickly as we can,” he said.

Peterson said, however, officials are there for the long haul.

“We’ll work until it’s done,” he said.

Jackson County authorities issued an advisory Wednesday night saying that travel is not safe in the county. “With the number of trees and power lines down couples with the flood damage from earlier today and inadequate light at night, it is not safe to travel on the roads right now,” said Jackson County Emergency Management Coordinator Kristina Page.

People in Jackson County are being asked to report damage to their residences at 211 or 1-800-362-8255.

There are numerous power outages throughout Jackson County Power companies are working to restore it.
A second round of severe storms started making its way through La Crosse and surrounding areas around 7:25 p.m. Wednesday.

So far, there are no reports of injuries from the storms.