Exactly twenty five years ago while most of the 600 citizens of Barneveld slept, a massive tornado swept through leveling virtually everything in its path. In the end nine people died and 200 were injured.
The tornado was described as F-5 which leaves "nothing but the cement foundation of a building," according to Jonathan Martin, Chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UW Madison. The categories ranges from F-0, a harmless funnel cloud, to F-6, an "inconceivable" storm which has yet to be observed
"F-5 is the most monstrous category of storms that has ever visited the surface of the earth," says Martin.
Barneveld was one of just three F-5 tornadoes in Wisconsin since 1950 with winds of over 300-miles-an-hour. The others were in Colfax in 1958 and Oakfield in 1996.
In the years since the disaster, the growth of Doppler radar has made it much easier to track tornadoes and other storms. Martin says in Barneveld's day the lead time was only few minutes but has been expanded up 15 minutes. He says those extra minutes can save lives.