Path length: 26.4 miles
Width: 100 yards
County: Portage, Waupaca
A violent tornado moved through parts of Portage and Waupaca Counties in Wisconsin on September 26, 1951. It was 1 of 3 tornadoes confirmed on this date and 1 of 2 given a rating of F4. Most of the time, the tornado was in Waupaca County. Per Thomas Grazulis, three farms were swept away 3 miles north of the town of Waupaca. He mentions the tornado at this point was near F5 intensity. Tragically, 5 members of the Rasmussen family were killed at their farm home north of Waupaca. Mrs. Frances Melliet was also killed near Lebanon. Here is a newspaper article from The Daily Telegram describing what happened.
Climatological Data National Summary Entry
Buildings on several farms demolished or badly damaged. Greater part of destruction occurred 3 miles north of City of Waupaca. Five of the six people killed were members of one family.
Additional Information from the NWS Green Bay
The F/EF-4 tornado developed 9 miles south southwest of Amherst in Portage County around 345 pm CST. The tornado cut through the towns of Waupaca and Lebanon in Waupaca County. The tornado traveled 22.3 miles and dissipated two miles southwest of Bear Creek in Waupaca County around 408 pm CST. The tornado reached a maximum width of 400 yards. A family of five was killed near Waupaca; while a 40 year old woman was killed near New London when a farm home was flattened.
From Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes
- Moved ENE from 9 miles SSW of Amherst, passing 6 miles SE of that town.
- Then moved 3 miles north of Waupaca, south of Manawa, to 7 miles north of New London.
- Dissipated west of Bear Creek.
- 3 farms swept away 3 miles north of Waupaca. Mentions tornado was near F5 intensity here.
- “All five members of the Rasmussen family were killed as they were cleaning chickens on the porch of their home on the opposite side of the house from the tornado’s approach.”
- Other fatality was at Lebanon Township, near Sugar Bush.
Click map to enlarge.
The path in black shows the SPC coordinates: Start: 44.33 / -89.30 End: 44.47 / -88.78
The path in red is an attempt to show Grazulis’ path from Significant Tornadoes. He moves the tornado ENE from 9 miles SSW of Amherst passing 6 miles SE of the town then 3 miles North of Waupaca, south of Manawa, to 7 miles North of New London. I measured distances out as he has listed and placed a dot. Not sure how far south of Manawa the tornado traveled. I have circled Bear Creek. There is a Bear Creek in Waupaca County and Outagamie County. Grazulis has the tornado dissipating west of Bear Creek, I am just not sure which one. Perhaps that ending point near Sugar Bush should be placed a bit further north and west of the Outagamie Bear Creek? Obviously I am sleuthing here and that plot is not exact but it is interesting to compare.
Note: Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.
We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the September 1951 Climatological Data National Summary (CDNS) and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:
- SPC/NCDC have a 26.4 mile path length.
- Grazulis and CDNS have a length at 20 miles.
- Grazulis has a width of 400 yards.
- Remaining sources have a 100 yard width.
- Grazulis has 2 injuries.
- Remaining sources have 3 injuries.
- CDNS only lists Waupaca County.
- Remaining sources list Portage and Waupaca County.
September 1951 Climatological Data National Summary
Killer Tornado Guide (1950-2017) For North Central and Northeast Wisconsin – NWS Green Bay
Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 960.
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