Back in 1915, Snowden D. Flora of the US Weather Bureau wrote, “Kansas
has been so commonly considered the tornado state of the country that the term ‘Kansas cyclone’ has almost become a part of the English language.” Flora’s words still seem to ring true. Whether called a twister, a tornado, a vortex, or cyclone, these catastrophic events have shaped lives in the Sunflower State for generations. Just a few destructive moments forever changed places such as Irving, Udall, Topeka, Andover, and Greensburg. Even before Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz
helped equate the tornado with Kansas, the turbulent nature of local weather seemed to parallel an equally turbulent history, with the fury of people such as John Brown
compared to a cyclone. Even if they have never seen a funnel cloud themselves, those who live in Kansas have come to accept the twister as a regular and always unpredictable neighbor.
Kansas was a battleground between pro- and anti-slavery forces before being admitted to the Union as a free state in 1861. John Brown was an abolitionist who believed that violence against slavery was justified, as he showed in the assault at Harpers Ferry in 1860.