May 27, 1997 was a stormy day in Central Texas. Texans are used to severe weather in the spring, but nothing could have prepared the little town of Jarrell for the monster that tore their world apart that day.
The following text is from a CNN report on the Jarrell tornado, just a few days after the storms swept Central Texas:
The state's top insurance official estimated $20 million worth of property damage. State and federal emergency workers expected to have better figures today.
National Weather Service officials gave the storm their highest ranking - F-5 - after seeing devastation that could only be caused by winds of more than 260 mph.
"Frame homes were completely swept away and then disintegrated, plumbing was pulled out of the ground and bark was stripped off trees,' said meteorologist Roy Pringle. "All of that indicates an F-5."
After surveying the damage, Bruce Thoren of the Austin/San Antonio National Weather Service office said, "it had to be an F-5" on the Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale. He said the twister swept foundations in the subdivision clean, tore apart livestock and tossed cars hundreds of feet ...
Three vortices were seen merging as the giant killer tornado formed north and west of Jarrell. Indian legend calls this a "Dead Man Walking", and says that if you see the Dead Man Walking in a tornado, you will die. LOOK HERE to read a Poem posted on tornadoproject.com that was about a different tornado that caused similar destruction.
CLICK HERE to see a short clip of the tornado by a news/chase crew.
While developing this cache, I spoke to several residents of Jarrell, including Mayor Wayne Cavalier, Park Foundation Board Member Patsy Goode, and reporter and writer (and newly elected City Council Member) Anita Fox. Their friendly welcome and willingness to help me with facts and tell me about their home made it easy to want to return time and again. Alanna (the city secretary) and Deborah (a volunteer and, I'm sure, indispensable team member) were warm and welcoming when I visited City Hall to scan pictures. In 2002, the First Annual Family Fiesta of Fun was held to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the tornado. It's grown every year since, and promises to be an important event in the life of this community.
When I emailed Mayor Cavalier recently about the cache, with information and pictures for him to share with the local patrolmen, I said to him (and I firmly believe) that Jarrell could have easily shriveled up and died after an event of this magnitude, but the family that is Jarrell stood together to face the challenge that was thrown at it. Communities such as this, so tightly woven, giving strength upon strength to each neighbor, are truly the fabric on which our country is built.
To get the final coordinates of the cache, answer these questions by inspecting the memorial that you find at the first coordinates.
A. How old was Katherine Meyer?
B. How many people were in the Igo family?
(This entire family was killed. Their survivors donated the land for Memorial Park in Jarrell.)
C. What is the difference in age between Cynthia and Keith Moehring?
D. Find the twin brothers. How much older than them was their sister?
E. How many victims of this tornado will be forgotten?
F. How many people had first names beginning with "J"?
G. What 2 digits indicate the year of the last tornado?
H. How old was Bernice Gower?
J. How many people in Jarrell died in the 1997 storm?
K. How old was the youngest victim?
Now fill in the coordinates here:
N A ° B C . D E F W G ° H . J K
I like to think that this is about a difficulty 2.5 or 3 without the hint (but maybe you'll prove me wrong!), and a 1 with it. Terrain is wheelchair accessible all the way, except for the final location. This is a log only micro; however, First To Find will receive a DVD of the movie "Twister" and I hope to make subsequent gifts available that are Jarrell- or tornado-related. Enjoy your visit to a small town with a big heart and an indomitable spirit!
This cache is placed with the knowledge and consent of Jarrell Mayor Wayne Cavalier and the Memorial Park Foundation. Be sure to cache in, trash out, especially at the final location! And stay out of the water that is present at all times!