Primary and Satellite Tornadoes near Chickasha OK, 3 May 99

Satellite Tornado

In this photo, the view is looking NNW. The smaller satellite tornado (at right) formed E of the F3 Chickasha OK tornado on 3 May 1999, then moved behind (N) of it before emerging to its left (W). The satellite tornado then followed the larger one northeastward before dissipating. Four satellite tornadoes were mapped in central Oklahoma on 3 May 1999. A satellite tornado can give the illusion of merging with the dominant tornado as it orbits behind its larger companion and becomes eclipsed from view. Unless the satellite tornado dissipates, however, it will reappear from behind the bigger one quickly, as did this one. They have been observed by storm chasers in several other significant tornado events, including Allison TX (8 Jun 1995) and Beloit KS (15 May 1990). On 13 Mar 1990, after doing F5 damage, the Hesston KS tornado became a satellite to its successor near Goessel KS (also F5), as the Hesston tornado "roped out."