Finger on the Weather

Weather service to live-tweet re-enactment of 1991 tornado in Wichita area

Have you ever wondered how social media might have been used during the tornado outbreak of April 26, 1991?

The National Weather Service branches in Wichita and Tulsa will provide a taste of that on Tuesday, re-enacting portions of that deadly outbreak on Twitter. An F5 tornado struck Andover, south Wichita and McConnell Air Force Base late that afternoon and evening in 1991, killing 17 people and injuring more than 200.

The Tulsa branch will focus on tornadoes that developed in Oklahoma. A total of 55 tornadoes touched down from northern Iowa to Texas that day, including 12 that registered at least F3 on the Fujita Scale measuring tornado wind speeds.

The first tweets on Tuesday will focus on the atmospheric environment on that fateful day, weather officials say. The Wichita branch will then live-tweet the actual event starting with the first tornado warning at 4:36 p.m. as the supercell thunderstorm gained strength and eventually produced the tornado near Clearwater.

There will be about 60 tweets in total issued by the Wichita branch, meteorologist Vanessa Pearce said. The re-enactment was planned for last Tuesday, but the threat of actual violent weather on April 26 prompted officials to postpone the event.

Readers can track the special tweets via @NWSWichita and @NWSTulsa. They’ll also be using the hashtags #Andover25th and #Outbreak1991.

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