Jarrell Tornado Anniversary

On the 20th Anniversary of the deadly Central Texas twister outbreak, Spectrum News looks back to May 27, 1997, and the violent F5 tornado that devastated the City of Jarrell.

Friends, Families Remember Those Killed by Jarrell Tornado
This weekend marks a solemn anniversary in the city of Jarrell. Twenty years ago a powerful F5 tornado hit the town, killed 27 people and injuring dozens more. 05/28/2017 01:02 PM

Jarrel Tornado: Dead Man Walking

Three separate funnels could be seen as the tornado touched down near Jarrell. It's said that a Native American legend called this formation the "Dead Man Walking," meaning, if you see this image within a twister, it will be deadly.

AP Photo/Scott Beckwith


Jarrell Tornado Victim's Memorial

Igo Memorial Playscape

"I think the word has to be gotten out over and over again that, rare as they are, they do occur and we have to be prepared for it." - Meteorologist Lon Curtis, who chased the Jarrell Tornado


Jarrell Tornado
AP Photo/Theresa Schuch

"You watch it and you know how dangerous it is, but you realize there's literally nothing you can do." - Priscilla King, Jarrell Tornado survivor


Double Creek Drive

"Everything was just gone. Those site built homes had just been, like somebody taking their hand and just completely wiping them." - Williamson County Sheriff's Cmdr. James David


Jarrell Tornado Damage
Source: NWS

"One of the things about Williamson, Travis and Hays counties is that the people who are moving in everyday from different parts of the country -- some of them, at least, don't know tornadoes." - Lon Curtis

Jarrell Tornado Historical Marker

The Jarrell Tornado is the last confirmed F5 tornado to touch down in the state of Texas.

This tornado followed an unusual path, moving to the south-southwest and has revived studies on the role of gravity waves on thunderstorm initiation.

Wind speeds were estimated to have peaked between 260 and 320 mph.

The storm killed 27 people, injured 12 more and left hundreds of cattle dead.

Double Creek Estates, a subdivision that once supported 50 sturdy homes, was nowhere to be found after the tornado moved through in a 5-mile-long, half-mile-wide swath.

Source: Texas DPS



"You saw things out there that, in your mind, weren't right. I found a telephone pole at one intersection. At the telephone pole, there was a belt around the telephone pole and it was buckled. So, in my mind I was looking at that, and I was kind of thinking of that movie 'Twister' where someone tried to tie themselves into a telephone pole and it didn't work." - Williamson County Sheriff's Lt. Craig Gripentrog


Source: NOAA

I-35 Touchdown
AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Ted S. Warren

Source: NOAA

MAP: MAY 27, 1997 TORNADOES

More than 20 twisters were spawned in Central Texas during the severe weather system on May 27, 1997, including the F5 Jarrell Tornado, the F3 Moody Tornado, the F3 Belton Tornado and the F3 Cedar Park Tornado.

Source: NWS

Jarrell Tornado Map
Graphic Courtesy of Lon Curtis

Fujita Scale
Source: NOAA

JARRELL TORNADO SURVIVORS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES:

Jarrell Resident Priscilla King:

Williamson County Sheriff's Cmdr. James David:

Williamson County Sheriff's Lt. Craig Gripentrog



NWS TORNADO WARNING FOR JARRELL:

WFUS1 KSAT 272030

TORSAT

TXC491-272130-

 

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED

TORNADO WARNING

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX

330 PM CDT TUE MAY 27 1997

 

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO HAS ISSUED A

TORNADO WARNING EFFECTIVE UNTIL  430 PM CDT

FOR PEOPLE IN THE FOLLOWING LOCATION...

 

IN SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS

 

...WILLIAMSON COUNTY

 

AT 325 PM A TORNADIC THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED ABOUT 5 MILES WEST OF

JARRAL MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 10 MPH. THIS STORM HAS HAD A HISTORY OF

PRODUCING TORNADOES AND LARGE HAIL.  THE CITY OF JARREL IS IN THE

PATH OF THIS STORM.

 

IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE...SEEK SHELTER IN A NEARBY REINFORCED

BUILDING.  AS A LAST RESORT...SEEK SHELTER IN A DITCH OR LOW

SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD.

 

PEOPLE IN OR NEAR THE PATH OF THIS STORM SHOULD TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION

TO PROTECT THEIR LIVES.  GO TO THE CENTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF YOUR

BUILDING...COVER YOUR HEAD.  STAY AWAY FROM DOORS AND WINDOWS.  DO

NOT STAY IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...GET INTO A STURDY BUILDING.

 

NNNN

 

NOAA JARRELL TORNADO REPORT:


NOAA DAMAGE SURVEY OF MAY 27 TORNADOES: