The National Weather Service said six tornadoes hit Wisconsin late Monday night and early Tuesday morning as severe storms moved from the Plains to the Midwest.
An EF3 tornado with winds as high as 140 mph hit the town of Verona, near Madison, at around midnight Tuesday morning, heavily damaging an elementary school. Earlier in the evening, a confirmed high-end EF2 tornado hit the town of Platteville, southwest of Madison. Winds in that twister were as high as 120 mph, leaving damage at the UW-Platteville campus but no injuries.
An EF1 tornado was confirmed near Platteville Golf and Country Club, and the NWS said it identified three other tornadoes – two in Green County and one more in far northwestern Madison.
"This was a nightmare scenario: Rotation embedded in a squall line of severe thunderstorms, at night, after many may have went to sleep," said weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. "There had not been a single tornado anywhere in the Badger State so far in 2014, the latest wait for the year's first tornado, there, since 1997."
At the UW-Platteville campus, head basketball coach Jeff Gard moved quickly to get about 150 children to shelters as a tornado closed in on the campus. The children, ages 8 to 17, were attending a basketball camp at the school and were sleeping on the top floor of Rountree Commons residence hall.
Athletic director Mark Molesworth tells the State Journal coach Gard was at his computer, heard a noise and saw the approaching tornado early Tuesday. Gard woke the children and moved them to an interior room. The dorm sustained extensive roof damage when the tornado hit.
Other children attending band, engineering and pre-college camps were taken to safe shelters during the storm and then sent home. The camps have been canceled.
Officials have declared a state of emergency in Dane County in order to make storm damage recovery assistance available to residents who need it.
Emergency managers said the north side of Verona and the southwest side of Madison suffered the brunt of the damage.
Dane County Emergency Management officials received about 350 reports of storm damage after the storm packing dangerously high winds hit shortly after midnight. Some 15 homes in the city of Verona sustained severe damage.
It is very fortunate no one was seriously injured by a suspected tornado on Madison's west side. pic.twitter.com/lOHnaacBdx— Dave Delozier (@DWDelozier) June 17, 2014
Country View Elementary School in Verona partially collapsed, according to police Lt. David Dresser. No serious injuries were reported. The department will take an inventory of damaged homes and other structures later Tuesday.
Early Tuesday, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin surveyed the damage at homes on the state capital's southwest side where winds had blown away at least six roofs.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
MORE: Nebraska Tornadoes Demolish Town
South Dakota Tornadoes
Storm chaser Roger Hill and his tour group, Silver Lining Tours, saw a total of eight tornadoes during their chase Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in South Dakota. (Roger Hill/Silver Lining Tours)