Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Surviving the Stoughton Tornad - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Surviving the Stoughton Tornado

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STOUGHTON (WKOW) - This is "Severe Weather Preparedness Week." History reminds us, we're not immune to the destructive power of tornadoes. Like on August 18th, 2005: the largest single-day tornado outbreak in the state's history. When the storms were over, 16 tornadoes had touched down in southern Wisconsin.

Stoughton was hardest hit with an F3 twister moving through at 5:15 in the evening. Resident Kim Hansen lived through the entire ordeal, "It just didn't seem to jive that something like this could truly pop up, cuz you look out the window, and it's a beautiful sunny, summer afternoon!" She says her 7-year-old son had a bad feeling that day, "He was acting so peculiar that afternoon. He was just agitated and nervous."

Hansen's husband, Steve, was outside that evening. "You could see it coming," he tells 27 News. "A big bank of dirty dirt and a debris-filled rolling cloud."

The Hansens went to the basement, ducked down and covered their two kids.

"That's what we heard the most, was just so much debris just bouncing off the deck and the house," Kim Hansen says.

Sheri Hults had just picked up her kids from football practice and saw the tornado passing behind Sandhill Elementary School. "I pulled over and I'm screaming at my poor kids to get out of the car and I dragged them into this stranger's house." Once inside, Hults says she headed to the basement to stay safe. "It was the best thing I ever did, because if I continued on home, I was right in the path."

Technology has improved greatly over the last 12 years, not only for predicting severe weather, but also how people receive warning information.

"Today you almost have to try not to get information," says 27 Storm Track meteorologist Brian Olson. "We have it by phone, we have it on the app, you have it on our website, you have it on radio and you have it streaming."

But even in 2005, Stoughton residents heeded the warnings. One person was killed in the 17-mile stretch of destruction.

"I thank God every day that more people weren't killed or injured," says Steve Hansen.

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