Kansas tornado generated 165 mph winds as it destroyed homes

A destroyed home seen from above.
The aftermath of Friday’s tornado at a home in Andover, Kan.
(Jaime Green / Associated Press)

The tornado that damaged more than 1,000 buildings Friday in south-central Kansas generated winds up to 165 mph and carved a path of destruction nearly 13 miles long.

The National Weather Service said the tornado, which caused extensive damage mostly in the Wichita suburb of Andover and injured several people, was rated EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale used to assess tornadoes, which goes up to EF-5.

Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said at least 300 to 400 buildings were destroyed by the storm, and 1,074 were damaged. The Weather Service said the tornado was on the ground for 21 minutes Friday evening.

Four people, including two firefighters who were responding to a call in Andover, sustained minor injuries.

Russell said it will take years for Andover to recover, and people in the area “still have scars” from an EF-5 tornado that struck in 1991. “I’m so thankful this tornado was not as bad as that, but we will literally be doing this for years,” he said.

By Sunday, utility crews had restored power to nearly all of the more than 15,000 customers who lost it during the storm. The electric company Evergy said fewer than 1,000 people in the Wichita area were without power Sunday morning.

In addition to the storm damage, three University of Oklahoma meteorology students were killed in a car crash Friday evening about 85 miles north of Oklahoma City as they returned from storm-chasing in Kansas, the Oklahoma State Patrol said.