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High winds cause damage, scrapes, groundings at Waterford Balloonfest in SE Wisconsin


WATERFORD, Wisconsin — Several people got scrapes and multiple vehicles were damaged as high winds hit a balloon festival in southeastern Wisconsin on Saturday, authorities said.

It happened at the Waterford Balloonfest, where balloons had to be grounded because of the stormy weather.

Racine County Sheriff's Lt. Dan Klatt told the Journal Times of Racine that a front went through around 7:30 a.m., and tethers on at least one balloon broke free. Several people trying to get control of it received scrapes and one person was taken to a hospital, he said.

But festival director Ken Walter told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that that person was taken to the hospital just for observation and not admitted.

Walter said it happened while balloons were being deflated after the display was canceled. A strong gust carried one balloon across the field. Its pilot and passenger were unharmed despite the rough landing. The balloon was damaged, and several tents on the edge of the field were damaged by high winds, but no serious injuries were reported, he said.

More storms rumbled across southern Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon, dumping heavy rain as they triggered several severe thunderstorm warnings and a few tornado warnings. Several funnel clouds were spotted in Walworth County, where the weather service says thunderstorm winds blew down a machine shed.

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