How bad was the 1997 Jarrell, Texas, tornado?

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Dear Tom,
How bad was the 1997 Jarrell, Texas, tornado?
— Kirk Light,
Hanover Park
Dear Kirk,
The F-5 tornado that tore through portions of Jarrell, Texas, 20 years ago on May 27, 1997, was a monster twister, one of the strongest on record. The damage it inflicted was incredible, annihilating everything in its 7.6-mile path, even peeling pavement from roadbeds.
The storm developed from a supercell that had produced two short-lived F-2 tornadoes about 10 minutes earlier. The Jarrell storm began as a series of thin, rope-shaped tornadoes that quickly evolved into a huge vortex with a width of nearly three-quarters of a mile.
In one devastated subdivision, 40 homes were eradicated with no traces of large debris. Three hundred cattle were killed, and area trees were stripped of their bark. The storm claimed 27 lives.