1997 Central Texas Tornado Outbreak - F5 Jarrell Tornado

F5 Jarrell Tornado

Initially a weak pencil-like tornado near the Bell-Williamson County line, the funnel rapidly intensified into a 3/4 mile wide multi-vortex storm at around 3:45 PM CDT.

Its first damage occurred three minutes later at 3:48 PM CDT in the northwestern portion of Jarrell striking Double Creek Estates. It moved to the south-west, which is unusual for tornadoes in North America. It later entered a wooded area before dissipating after damaging numerous trees. Another unusual thing about this tornado is that there was no clear "hook echo" in the radar, which is usually visible in strong tornadoes.

Grass and soil in fields near Jarrell were ripped out of the ground to a depth of 18 in (46 cm). When the tornado crossed county roads outside Jarrell, it tore a 500-foot (152 m) length of asphalt from the roads.

About 40 structures were completely destroyed by the tornado and dozens of vehicles were rendered unrecognizable after being thrown great distances, some more than half a mile. Many researchers, after reviewing aerial damage photographs of Double Creek Estates, considered the Jarrell storm to be the most violent tornado, in terms of damage intensity, that they had ever seen. Many of the homes in the tornado's path were well-constructed and bolted to their foundations: the tornado left only the slab foundations and there was not much debris left in the area. Several entire families were killed in the tornado, including all five members of the Igo family and all four members of the Moehring family. The tornado's slow movement combined with the high winds is the reason why the tornado was so destructive. The tornado also picked up a lot of loose soil, giving it a sandblasting effect on the houses. Only one person was seriously injured and less than a dozen people suffered minor injuries after the tornado, a testament to the small probability of survival in the Double Creek neighborhood.

There were 27 human fatalities in the Double Creek subdivision. In addition, about 300 cattle were killed by the storm.

About 10 minutes prior to the main event, eye-witnesses spotted additional tornadoes north and west of Jarrell.

Read more about this topic:  1997 Central Texas Tornado Outbreak

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