Monday, April 25, 2016

A Quarter Century After the Andover Tornado

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I had planned to post this tomorrow but, because of the potential for tornadoes tomorrow, I wanted to go ahead and post it this evening.

On the set with me are, from left, John Holt, Melissa Beck and Steve Dennis. I had rushed onto the set speaking quickly (there were three major tornadoes going on simultaneously in our viewing area and the floor manager was giving me the "wrap it up!" signal). It was at that moment that I warned Andover for the first time, 19 minutes before the tornado reached the center of the city.

The tornado killed 18. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 94 would have been killed if, as would have likely been the case if a similar storm had occurred 40 years earlier, there had been no warning.

The main point of this posting is that you saw me in front of the camera as President of WeatherData, Inc. and the chief meteorologist of KSNW-TV. But, it was hardly just me. There was a superb team of meteorologists that I was proud to be part of. They were taking care of our radio clients, our railroad and industrial clients, and our newspaper clients while all hell broke lose.

The best friend of WeatherData's #2 man lost a son and daughter in that tornado. Other members of our staff also had friends who were directly affected by the tornado. For WeatherData's meteorologists, and for every meteorologist in south central Kansas, it will be a day that will stay with us the rest of our lives.

Fortunately, weather science has continued to progress in the last 25 years and tornado warnings have continued to improve. But, weather science is only part of it. People must respond to the warnings. I hope you will do just that if a warning is issued for your region tomorrow or some day in the future.

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