The Andover Tornado

| April 25, 2009 @ 10:52 pm | 2 Replies

The tornado touched down about 1.5 miles south southeast of Clearwater, Kansas about 6:10 p.m. CDT on April 26, 1991. It uprooted trees along a narrow path near the banks of the Ninnesecah River. Early in its life, the tornado exhibited multiple vortices, producing F3 damage. It veered just to the north as it bore down on Haysville, just south of Wichita. Several homes were destroyed, but it could have been much worse. It began passing through the southeastern part of the city of Wichita. It passed just a mile south of the South Wichita interchange on the Kansas Turnpike.

McConnell Air Force Base was next on the tornado’s agenda. The twister cross the base’s runways and missed a billion dollar line of B-1B bombers by less than one thousand feet. The southern part of the base received F2-F3 damage. The Officer’s Club and Base Hospital were heavily damaged. Base housing was hard hit. As the tornado continued northeast, it began to expand. F4 intensity was observed in the Greenwich Heights subdivision.

A subdivision near the Sedgwick County/Butler County line was nearly completely leveled as the tornado intensified to its highest intensity. As the tornado turned into an F5 monster, it set its sights on the Golden Spur Mobile Home Park in Andover about 6:45 p.m. Warnings mentioning Andover specifically were issued seven minutes before the tornado arrived. The sirens in Andover were not working. A police cruiser drive through the park sounding its sirens as a warning. Many of the residents had heard about the approaching tornado from local television coverage and headed to the park’s storm shelter. Others said they would not take shelter until the funnel was visible. Fortunately it was slow moving and highly visible and many made it to shelter in time. Over 200 people were huddled in the shelter when the twister struck, annihilating 233 of the 241 homes there. The tornado obliterated the mobile home community, killing thirteen people. Twisted frames were the only remains of many of the mobile homes.

The tornado thankfully moved into more rural territory northeast of Andover, crossing the Kansas Turnpike. Near El Dorado, the tornado literally bounced a huge oil tank over a half mile. Right after the Andover tornado lifted, the same storm produced another tornado that was captured on news video as it passed near on overpass on the Kansas Turnpike. It led a false belief that overpasses were safe shelter during tornadoes.

When the tornado finally lifted about five miles north of El Dorado, it had been on the ground for forty five miles. A total of seventeen people lost their lives.

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About the Author ()

Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site's official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site's severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian

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