Cloud watchers

Dark, rotating clouds had residents of Barron nervously scanning the sky early Tuesday evening following the report of three tornadoes in the area. One, according to spotters, briefly touched the ground twice near Almena before disappearing into rotating clouds headed northeast. Another tornado was seen headed eastward between Cameron and Rice Lake. That, apparently, did not touch ground nor did a twisting storm cloud moving west to east between Barron and Ridgeland. Photo by Jim Bell

Barron County appeared to dodge a bullet early Tuesday evening, July 21, 2020, as no less than three simultaneous tornado warnings were issued by the National Weather Service.

The threatening storm cells crossed the area in an almost consistent west-to-east direction. The warnings were in effect from approximately 5:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The northernmost storm cell went over U.S. Hwy. 53, about halfway between Rice Lake and Cameron. The central storm threatened rural areas including Arland, Hillsdale, Wickware and Chetek before exiting into Rusk County. The southern storm included tornado warnings for Clayton, Prairie Farm, and Ridgeland, before it veered to the southeast and headed into northeastern Dunn County.

At about 6 p.m., a Barron County Sheriff’s Deputy confirmed at least two brief tornado touchdowns near county highways P and D, south of Almena. Moments later, the officer reported a wall cloud still rotating. But there was no apparent damage.

At 6:30 p.m., the Sheriff’s Department Office of Emergency Services issued a tornado warning effective until 7:15 p.m. for the Rice Lake area, and activated a warning siren. But, aside from heavy rain, the storm moved through the area just south of the city.

There were at least two more funnel cloud sightings, both by trained spotters, before the storms left the area. One sighting was near Wisconsin Hwy. 25 and Ninth Avenue, the other near the intersection of County Hwy. TT and 12th Avenue, southwest of Barron.

Follow the News-Shield website for further weather updates.