Storm Events Database

Event Details:

Event Tornado
-- Scale F5
-- Length 5.1 Miles
-- Width 650 Yards
NCEI Data Source PDC
Begin Date 1997-05-27 14:40:00.0 CST
Begin Location 1W JARRELL
Begin Lat/Lon 30.82/-97.62
End Date 1997-05-27 14:53:00.0 CST
End Location 6SW JARRELL
End Lat/Lon 30.77/-97.67
Deaths Direct/Indirect 27/0 (fatality details below, when available...)
Injuries Direct/Indirect 12/0
Property Damage 40M
Crop Damage 100K
Episode Narrative Several eyewitnesses reported that the Jarrell tornado was preceded for a period of 8 to 10 minutes by a series of short-lived very small tornadoes that formed from the same supercell thunderstorm. These touched down, then dissipated in order.

The first tornado in Williamson County formed near 2:25 pm CST and built rapidly to F2 strength. It survived for approximately 8 minutes, often returning briefly to a roped and tilted feature before it died. This tornado was followed by a second that formed near 2:35 pm CST. It built quickly into a multi-vortex tornado that appeared to be near F2 strength as well. This dissipated after only 4 minutes.

The final tornado from this same supercell, , the Jarrell Tornado, developed as a small...rope-shaped tornado, touching down around 2:40 pm CST inside the Williamson County line northwest of Jarrell. From film and eyewitness accounts, it expanded quickly into a very large vortex nearly 1/2 mile in width. Observations recounted by eyewitnesses indicated that the damage path may not have been made strictly by one tornado. A number of eyewitnesses reported seeing several small, rope-like funnels before the character of the tornado changed drastically into the killer tornado. Ground damage patterns in the Double Creek Subdivision also suggested this possibility.

The tornado crossed CR 308, CR 305, and then CR 307. Where the tornado crossed each of these county roads, approximately 525 feet of asphalt was ripped off each of the roadways. This particular destruction was believed to be very close to the centerline of the tornado circulation. As the tornado crossed the intersection of CR 305 and 307, a business on the corner was destroyed. The tornado moved into the Double Creek area at this point with total destruction. F5 destruction continued from shortly after its formation until very close to the end of the damage path.

The tornado began a brief turn toward the southeast as it entered the Double Creek subdivision and the surrounding area, moving very slowly. It reached the subdivision at 3:48 pm. This time is based on a clock found at a destroyed residence in the extreme northwest corner of the subdivision and the home believed to be the first struck by the tornado. Here, it widened to it maximum width of three-quarters of a mile. From the air, the ground appearance changed abruptly in the vicinity of CR 308 and continued until very near the end of the path. No definitive circulation patterns or suction spots were evident, but there was the noted obvious change in the appearance of the ground. In the Double Creek area, approximately 40 structures were totally destroyed. One of the most striking signs in approaching this area was the distinct lack of debris of any size. Closer inspection showed lots of little debris but no sign of large items. It was estimated that several dozen vehicles had been in the subdivision and removed by the tornado. Nearly 300 cattle grazing in a pasture near the subdivision were also killed, with many of them tossed and blown for over 1/4 mile. At least half a dozen cars were identified from the air lying in the open areas, most of them flattened and encrusted with mud and grass. Trees in the subdivision were completely stripped of bark. Later ground survey revealed that most of the debris that was left in the area was extremely small indicating the power of the tornadic wind. All 27 deaths associated with the Jarrell tornado occurred in the Double Creek area. Eyewitnesses reported that it appeared to have slowed down as it entered the subdivision, and that may account for the nearly total destruction that took place.

After passing through the Double Creek area, the tornado shifted its track again slightly, moving toward the south-southwest across CR 309 and into a heavily wooded area of cedar trees. The total destruction of the tornado ends abruptly shortly after entering the wooded area. However, a small swath of tree damage on the north side of the main damage path suggested the possibility of a multiple vortex pattern. No other evidence of multiple vortices was observed.

The sequence of weather phenomenon reported with this tornado was exactly opposite of that often reported- the tornado first appeared, followed by nearly calm conditions, then hail, followed by rain and finally brief, gusty winds. This is attributed to the fact that the parent supercell was moving toward the southwest for most of its life. The storm essentially "backed into" the area as it moved.

Event Fatality Details:

Type Age Gender Fatality Location
Death (Direct) 36 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 16 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 15 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 15 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 41 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 40 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 40 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 40 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 16 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 15 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 44 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 5 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 22 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 50 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 15 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 14 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 36 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 13 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 10 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 34 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 15 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 13 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 37 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 11 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 46 Male Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 45 Female Permanent Home
Death (Direct) 17 Female Permanent Home


Event Map:

Note: The tornado track is approximate based on the beginning (B) and ending (E) locations. The actual tornado path may differ from a straight line.

All events for this episode:

Location County/Zone St. Date Time T.Z. Type Mag Dth Inj PrD CrD
Totals: 27 12 40.000M 100.00K
JARRELL WILLIAMSON CO. TX 05/27/1997 14:25 CST Tornado F2 0 0 0.00K 0.00K
JARRELL WILLIAMSON CO. TX 05/27/1997 14:35 CST Tornado F2 0 0 0.00K 0.00K
JARRELL WILLIAMSON CO. TX 05/27/1997 14:40 CST Tornado F5 27 12 40.000M 100.00K
Totals: 27 12 40.000M 100.00K