Andover, Kansas – 1991 Tornado

Andover Kansas 1991 Tornado

One of the deadliest tornadoes in Kansas history is known as the Andover Tornado which was actually the most destructive twister out of 55 tornadoes reported in the deadly outbreak on April 26, 1991. Perhaps it’s a day we would rather not recall, but history needs to be revisited so we can learn to be better prepared. Much new insight into tornado warnings, shelters, myths and education of these powerful monstrous storms has evolved since that fateful day. In fact, the very scale used to measure the strength of tornadoes has changed since the Andover Outbreak. The Andover tornado was the last Kansas tornado to be rated F5 on the Fujita scale. Since that time ratings have switched to a newer EF (Enhanced Fujita scale). It was sixteen years later, the next Kansas EF5 tornado (under the new EF scale) wreaked havoc in Greensburg, Kiowa County on May 4, 2007.

Tornado Predictions and Warnings

Obviously, there are much more advances in technology to aide in predicting and warning Kansans of possible outbreaks, as well as tornadoes on the ground approaching certain areas. In 1987, the National Weather Service decided not to warn or even say the word “tornado” fearing it would cause widespread destructive panic. That changed in 1948, when Tinker Air Force base, OK, took a direct hit. Sirens were being used to warn of possible air raids so they began to be used for tornado warnings. Since that time, many lives have been saved from sirens, advances in Doppler radars and even newer technology and warnings through media and even apps. Meteorologists are getting more precise in predictions with computer use. We’ve come a long way, even since the 1991 Andover tornado when the outdoor siren system failed.

Damage Control since the Andover KS Tornado

The Andover Tornado on April 26, 1991 traveled 46 miles for over an hour, killing 17 and leaving one-third of Andover’s population of 4300 homeless. The F5 tornado destroyed 300 homes, 10 businesses and 2 churches, with the highest wind speed recording at 268 MPH. That was just the Andover tornado. The Andover Outbreak spawned 55 separate twisters, varying in strength (12-F0, 13- F1, 18-F2, 7-F3, 4-F4 and the Andover F5). The outbreak lasted 19 hours and caused over $250 million damage. Homes and buildings are now built stronger to withstand such devastating windspeeds and more people now have access to tornado shelters.

Storm Shelters Save Lives

Each time a major tornado hits, the National Weather Service and the Texas Wind Institute has studied the storm shelters that withstood damage especially in EF5 tornadoes. The Texas Wind Institute test new designs on the market to meet or exceed certain FEMA codes to provide real protection. They have determined that both in-ground and above ground Shelters that have passed these criteria have passed both simulated tornadic wind speeds of 250 plus MPH or the real thing. Investigators have gone into areas demolished by EF5 tornadoes and studied shelters made of concrete and heavy-duty metals which were still standing when all around was gone.

Eric Stolfi, of Storm Defense Shelters, KS, knows what it is like to ride out a KS tornado with his young family with no protection. That is why he started his business. He is determined to provide protection from deadly tornadoes to his Kansas neighbors, schools, mobile home parks, and businesses. The more available storm shelters are, the more lives which can be saved. Contact Eric at Storm Defense today to learn how you can provide the right shelter for your family and those you are responsible for—anywhere in Kansas.