New Video of 1991 Wichita-Andover Tornado

It was brought to my attention that never-before-seen video of the Andover Tornado was posted on Youtube.
As you view the video there is an important safety tip.  You hear the photographer say, "Its in the exact same place it was."  If a tornado appears not to be moving but growing larger it is coming right at you! Unfortunately, that was literally true in this case as the photographer's home was hit. 

The video is also noteworthy is you can hear the "waterfall" (starting about 1:45) sound of the tornado when it is relatively far away and then the "freight train rumble" when it gets closer (starting around 3:05 and continuing until around 7:00). You also hear sirens of police cars trying to warn people in the path (the town's tornado siren never sounded because there was so much voice traffic on the police frequency the siren activation tones could never get through to the siren). At 5:00 you can hear the police cars telling people the tornado was coming and get to shelter.  They were heroes for putting themselves in harm's way.

There is video of the aftermath of the tornado, including damage to the photographer's home here. It, too, is dramatic.
The warnings we did for Wichita and Andover saved about 70 lives as estimated in a study done by the Centers for Disease Control. In the photo below, I am explicitly warning the City of Andover (the others are John Holt and Melissa McDermott) at the moment this photo was taken, more than 15 minutes before the tornado arrived. That type of specificity helped
Photo courtesy KSNW - TV, Wichita

the warning gain credibility and prompted people to respond correctly. I am proud to say the City of Andover, Kansas is now a WeatherData® client using our SelectWarn® system to precisely trigger their sirens -- digitally, and without interferrence -- in areas threatened by the tornado and not sounding sirens outside the tornado's path. I just did their annual start-of-storm-season recurring training last week.
City of Andover tornado siren

Andover was one of the first "video age" tornadoes with multiple photographers photographing the storm. While these videos are helpful in educating people as to the terror of tornadoes, I continue to be concerned that someone is going to be seriously injured doing this.


  1. WOW! Very cool to see completely raw video. I was 12 at the I can still remember 4/26/91 as if it was last week. My family was impacted by the (thankfully far weaker) Goddard tornado that day.

    Even with that weaker tornado (I'm guessing F0 or F1), Dad said it still shook the house when it passed within 30-40 yards of the house. Mom, Dad and my two siblings took shelter in the basement storm cellar. (Coincidentally, I was gone at a friend's house at the time.)

    Dad said it was worth every penny it cost to build the storm cellar!

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  3. I also forgot to say that my family was watching your coverage on KSNW when the power went out. Dad looked out the window to the southwest, and there was the tornado just a hundred or so yards away! It wasn't very visible, as it had been crossing wheat fields (no major debris) and didn't have a condensation funnel. Dad said he remembered seeing what he thought was a mattress swirling around the tornado!

    For years you could follow the exact path the tornado took as it crossed the property, as wheat stubble was "permanently" implanted onto the ground. Amazing stuff.

  4. Keith,

    In "Warnings" I talk about how the path of strong tornadoes can be tracked across the grasslands of the Midwest by the marks and wind-burning it makes.

    Thanks for commenting.


  5. Mike - I definitely plan on getting the book!

  6. This is a public service message from dadof4spartans...

    Thank God I was aware that the tornado was coming straight at my house because--

    A) There was no lateral movement relative to my pov.

    B) I know that tornadoes don't just sit in one place.

    C) Merril Teller said it was moving northeast from McConnell and I stated that, "that's coming straight toward us".

    D) It was getting much bigger.

    E) It was getting much louder.

    I am going to clean the video up as best I can and repost it in a few days. I'm glad you enjoyed it Mike.

  7. I was living at Cloudridge Apartments when the tornado hit. Have been looking for a photo that was in the papers at the time of a ford ranchero with a 2 by 4 driven through the front fender. Any helpful suggestions?

  8. Sorry for the late response. You can purchase photos from the "Wichita Eagle" if they have appeared in the newspaper. You can contact their library and they can usually come up with it for you.

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