SPC Stats

Path length: 46 miles

Width:  700 yards

Fatalities:  17

Injuries:  225

Rating:  F5

County:  Sedgwick, Butler

The Plains Tornado Outbreak of April 26, 1991:   55 tornadoes, 30 of which rated F2 or greater on the Fujita scale.  4 were rated F4 (3 in OK, 1 in KS) and one was rated F5.  21 fatalities were reported.  Below is a map by Jon Davies of the tornadoes in this outbreak.

The topic of our summary: a long track, well documented event:  The Wichita-Andover, KS F5 Tornado.  Information for this summary was gathered from the Storm Data Publication, an overview from the NWS and from Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes.

The Wichita-Andover tornado was the 3rd in a family of 4 tornadoes that pushed through South Central KS.  The first tornado was rated F0 and damaged a roof NE of Anthony, KS.  The 2nd tornado also rated F0 passed NW of Argonia, KS.  It hit no buildings.  We’ll get back to #3 in a minute.  The 4th tornado was an F2 that touched down at the NE endow El Dorado Lake and moved parallel to the Kansas Turnpike.  

Tornado #3 developed 5 miles South of Clearwater in Sedgwick County and quickly became a muli-vortex tornado.  Per Thomas Grazulis, “Damage was extensive in the northern part of Haysville, south and southeast of Wichita, and across McConell Air Force Base.”  Per Storm Data, there was $62 million damage to the AFB.  “The damage could have been much higher as it missed a flight line of B-1B bombers by 1,000 feet.”  

In Butler County, F5 damage occurred across the southern part of Andover.  Large frame homes were demolished.  The Golden Spur Mobile Home Park was hit and per Storm Data, “Experienced tornado damage surveyors said the damage to the mobile home park was among the worst they had ever seen.”  13 people lost their lives at this mobile home park.  

To the NE of the Golden Spur, a vehicle was found in a field so badly damaged you couldn’t tell if it was a car or truck.

Narratives from the April 1991 Storm Data Publication

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 37.47 / -97.48   End:  37.90 / -96.87

Used county coordinates as well from NCDC Database   

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Survey map by Brian Smith, NSSFC via Storm Data

Tornado and Damage Photos from the NWS Collaboration Summary of the Event

Andover Tornado via NWS Summary

Videos

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the April 1991 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 46 mile path.
  • Grazulis has a 45 mile path.
  • Storm Data is a bit confusing.  They have 24 miles in Sedgwick County and then list 45 miles in Butler.  That would be a total path of 67 miles.

Width:

  • SPC has 440 yards.
  • NCDC/Storm Data has 440 yards in Sedgwick but 700 yards in Butler.
  • Grazulis has a 500 yard width.

      Sources:

      The Storm Prediction Center

      NCDC Storm Events Database

      April 1991 Storm Data Publication

      The Plains Outbreak Overview – NWS Collaboration

      NWS Wichita Summary for 25th Anniversary

      newspapers.com

      Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1310.

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