From 1844 to 2002 the state of Wisconsin has experienced almost 1,500 tornadoes, which have occurred in every county. The tornado season in Wisconsin lasts from April through September. Rusk County in west central Wisconsin has had 17 tornadoes during this time, the latest of which occurred in 2002 in the city of Ladysmith. Ladysmith is a small city with a population of around 4,000 people and is about an hour and forty minutes north of the city of Eau Claire

On Labor Day September 2, 2002 Ladysmith was hit by a storm being pushed by a cold front from the west that produced six tornadoes one of which hit the small northern town of Ladysmith. Five of the six tornadoes were classified as F0-F2 and swept through Marathon, Fond Du Lac and Taylor Counties. At one point an F2 tornado hit Gilman Wisconsin and torn the roof off of the school gym.  At 4:20pm the most violent and devastating tornado of the six hit the town of Ladysmith. This tornado had a rating that ranged from a F0 to an F3 while it was still in the city reaching wind speeds estimated at 140-150 mph. The tornado started west of Ladysmith and dissipated south of the town of Ingram, which is just east of Ladysmith. In the thirty minutes that this tornado was on the ground it traveled 15 miles and cut a path around 400 yards wide.

  The speed at which the tornado hit was so great that the sirens in the town where never even sounded which makes it even more astounding that no one was severely injured or killed in the incident. One of the biggest factors that the residents attributed to the minor injuries and lack of fatalities is the fact that since it was Labor Day many people were gone and out of town when the tornado hit. After the incident 40 people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries the most serious of which was a broken leg. Additional damage left 14,000 people in the Ladysmith area without power due to the storm. The destruction in the path of the tornado was extreme while the damage at the outer edges ranged from total destruction of buildings to buildings and trees that had no damage.  

  During the time that the tornado was in Ladysmith it initially caused an estimated $25 Million Dollars in damage to the city itself and over all  it was estimated that the total destruction of the storms caused $31 million dollars in damage to the entire 19 county area that was hit by the storms. In the town itself the tornado traveled through sixteen blocks destroying over forty buildings and damaging many more.       

NEXRAD  9-2-02













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