Damage from the May 27, 1997 Jarrell, Texas Tornado

The extreme violence unleashed on the small town of Jarrell, Texas by a killer tornado is hard to imagine without seeing the horrible destruction in person.

I offer my deepest sympathy to those who lost loved ones in this tragic event.

The following images were taken on Sunday, June 1, 1997, five days after the event occurred. 

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Links to other sites on the Jarrell, Texas tornado.

The following images are video stills unless noted otherwise.

Looking east - Approaching Jarrell from the north, this uprooted tree was the first wind damage we found.
Looking SE - A little farther south we found a field that was stripped bare by the tornado. The few plants that remained were bent over to the ground and were accompanied by a downwind tear drop shaped buildup of soil.
Looking south across the road - a field of corn was stripped of leaves, with only a few stalks left standing. This field was on the western edge of the tornado's track. The tornado's path was about 150 yards wide at this point.
A buzzard hawk fell victim to the sudden intensification of the tornado NW of Jarrell.
Looking south - Another 1/4 mile or so southeast were the remains of a barn.
Just east of the barn, the tornado struck a glancing blow at this house, producing moderate damage.
Friends and family offer comfort to the elderly resident of the damaged home.
Closer to the center of the tornado's path, a harvester was flipped on its side and heavily damaged by the tornado.
About a one and one-half miles southeast, on the northwestern edge of Jarrell, the tornado peeled the pavement from the highway. Pavement was removed from this north-south road for another mile. Numerous homes had been located in the open field on the east (to the right of the pickup) side of the road prior to the tornado. Most of the fatalities occurred in this area which is located on the western side of Jarrell.
Looking north at one of many projectiles that were stuck in the ground at the road's edge.
I pulled this one out of the ground to determine how far it had penetrated into the Earth.
The mangled remains of a trailer's frame were twisted, bent and left as a tangled pile of twisted metal.
A close-up of sheet metal wrapped around the trailer frame.
An engine block came to rest upside down in the field. A radiator hose was connected to the block with a worm gear hose clamp still in place where it had been coupled to a radiator. No trace of the vehicle could be seen in the area.
The remains of a headless, hairless dog were within a few yards of the road. Dirt, not hair, covers the torso of this unfortunate animal. (Makes you want to take shelter in a ditch or under a bridge no doubt. The only relatively safe place to ride out this tornado would have been underground in a steel reinforced concrete shelter.)
Tree damage from an area located southwest of the housing addition where most of the fatalities occurred. The stench of rotting flesh permeated the air. ( I assume the smell was from wildlife and perhaps domesticated animals that fell victim to the tornado.)
Leaves and limbs were removed from healthy trees, while trees outside the tornado's path were fully populated with thick green foliage.
Trees along the outer margins of the tornado's track, where the winds were less fierce than nearer the tornado's center, were uprooted and devoid of leaves. Some large limbs were also broken.
Two residents search the woods hoping to salvage personal items.
The yellow item just below the center of the image was one of many articles of clothing seen hanging from the broken trees.
Severe tree damage at the southern edge of Jarrell. (photo)
Severe tree damage. Note the sheet metal wrapped around the trunk on the right.
Trees near the center of the tornado's path were snapped off within a few feet of the surface, an indication of extremely rapid wind acceleration when the tornado struck. (The largest tree affected in this way appeared from a distance to be approximately three feet in diameter.) (photo)
Texas State DPS officers and the County Sheriff's deputies kept close watch over the area.
Note the almost unrecognizable vehicle near the center of this video still image.
The twisted remains of a barely recognizable car are in the center of this image from a slide. (photo)
A view across the neighborhood that was destroyed by the tornado. Anchor bolts were visible along the periphery of the slab foundations, indicating that the homes that had been here were well constructed. Even the bath tubs and other plumbing fixtures were completely torn from the foundation and swept away by the tornado.
A driveway to nowhere.
The remains of another mobile home.
The amount of pavement removed by the tornado was amazing. The Jarrell tornado removed more asphalt pavement than the Dimmit, Texas tornado of June 1995.
Looking north - The tornado moved from left to right across this road.
Pavement was even removed on the edge of the tornado's path, possibly by intense sub-vortices at the edge of the larger tornadic circulation. (Looking north on the north side of the track.)

Links to the Jarrell, Texas information

City of Jarrell, Texas Homepage

Links to weather data, analysis, news stories and storm chase reports on the Jarrell, Texas tornado:

Lon Curtis's report on the tornadoes

Bruce Haynie's report on the Cedar Park tornado

University of Wisconsin weather data

Texas A&M weather analysis

Simulations of Convection Derived from the Jarrell, Texas Mesoscale Environment by Matthew Gilmore

Some Thoughts on the Role Mesoscale Features Played in the 27 May 1997 Central Texas Tornado Outbreak by Stephen F. Corfidi

Jarrell, Texas Tornadic Thunderstorm Satellite Loop

Jarrell, Texas Tornadic Thunderstorm Radar Loop

Service Assessment - The Central Texas Tornadoes of May 27, 1997

The Jarrell, Texas Tornado of 27 May 97 - Three Views of the Historic Event

Interstate 35 Blocked during the 27 May 1997 Jarrell, Texas Tornado

Forest damage from the Jarrell, Texas Tornado

Jarrell Storm Shelters

Google Links to News stories

Yahoo Links to News Stories

DogPile search engine links to news stories and other web sites

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Copyright 1997 - Samuel D. Barricklow - All rights reserved.

Video of this event is available through StormStock

Learn to identify severe thunderstorms and tornadoes by viewing the training videos used by the National Weather Service to train SKYWARN spotters. Visit The Storm Shop - your source for SKYWARN training videos.

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Last revised: January 20, 2007