Tornadoes on the ground: remembering a deadly day as it happened

Tornado in Jarrell on May 27, 1997. (KXAN Photo)
Tornado in Jarrell on May 27, 1997. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — This weekend the community of Jarrell will observe the anniversary of one of the worst tragedies in Central Texas history. It’s been 20 years since a massive tornado wiped out the Double Creek Estates subdivision, taking 27 lives.

The Jarrell tornado packed winds estimated at more than 260 miles per hour, giving the twister an F5 rating. Before that day, there had never been an F5 tornado recorded in our part of Texas.

And, since the Jarrell tornado 20 years ago, there still has not been another F5 anywhere in Texas. Storms that day also spawned two more tornadoes. The Cedar Park F3 and Lake Travis F4 tornadoes followed right behind, taking two more lives.

It’s a day those of you here at the time will never forget. For you, and for two decades of newcomers since, Jim Spencer takes you back to that history-making afternoon, as it unfolded. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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