Before chasing any type of storm, it should be known that storm chasing, despite what's seen on TV and in movies, is not a safe endeavor. Nothing is ever guaranteed and nature is highly unpredictable, which means storms - whether it be thunderstorms, snowstorms, or tornadoes - are also unpredictable. Never drive into inclement weather without someone who's experienced and proficient in extreme weather safety protocol.
With that being said, there are ways that the thrill-seekers of the world can experience the storms they've been admiring from afar (or not at all, if you live outside of tornado-prone states). While the term Tornado Alley is outdated, it's been expanded to include the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, the Dakotas, Illinois, Iowa, Alabama, Mississippi, and Colorado. It's throughout these states where amateur storm chasers can (safely) meet up with professional, experienced storm chasers, and go on the trip of a lifetime. If you ever wanted to get up close and personal with extreme weather, including a tornado or two, these storm chasing groups are giving you the chance to live out your Twister dreams.
Extreme Tornado Tours
On this tour, you'll be strapped in for a five to ten-day excursion from April to June with a professional team that includes severe weather meteorologist Kevin Wolfs of Basehunters. Now, knowing that you'll be in good, and experienced, hands, those who choose this tour will be making their way to Oklahoma City where the group is based. Extreme Tornado Tours has been doing this since 2008 and have chased down hundreds of tornadoes, allowing people to witness these beastly storms up close and personal.
Guests will get a quick safety briefing prior to heading out in the field via specially outfitted vans. These have windows next to each passenger seat that allows guests to look out and witness weather for themselves without actually being exposed to the elements. Each van is also equipped with flat screens that allow guests to watch the weather outside as well as charging ports, and walkie-talkies for between-van communication.
According to Midland USA, StormTours offers the most comfortable tornado-viewing seating as well as accommodations of any other. They've been running tours since 1999 which also makes them one of the oldest operating tornado tours in the region, offering starting points in Denver, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City. Led by experts with decades of experience behind them, guests should get ready to buckle their seatbelts (in their fully-reclining chairs) and chase down some tornadoes.
Each tour includes lodging, airport pickup, briefings about extreme weather, tips for good photos, front and center seating, and a memorable t-shirt from the experience. This is a great option for anyone who's keen on having everything, from the moment they land until the moment they're headed back to the airport, taken care of.
Tempest Tours was founded in 2000 and ever since then, it's been their mission to take interested parties along for an educational, thrilling ride. As a whole, the team running these tours has decades of combined experience which they use to track tornadoes while educating guests onboard their heavy-duty, modified-for-safety vans. Throughout the tour, guests will learn from storm spotters, a climatologist, a severe weather research meteorologist, a wind meteorologist, and a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Using modern tracking technology, GPS systems, and radar, you'll be able to watch the entire storm chasing process from the moment a supercell is spotted, to the moment a tornado touches down. Each van is able to carry six to seven passengers and every drive completes rigorous weather safety training beforehand. Tempest Tours also offers an option called Maddy's Tour, which is a unique option for children with special needs who are interested in extreme weather.
Extreme Chase Tours
Extreme Chase Tours offers some of the most affordable storm chasing tours which start at $2,300 per person for trips that range from six to ten days in length. According to their website, Extreme Chase Tours has a success rate of 90% when it comes to hunting down tornado-producing storms. Owner Larry Dean started the tour company back in 1999 with the intention of both educating and thrilling an audience.
Extreme Chase Tours offers options for groups as well as photography for those who are keen on getting the perfect shot. They've also been featured on CNN, The Weather Channel, Good Morning America, ABC, NCB, and National Geographic for their storm chasing methods. Each guest on the tour will have their own window seat and with more intimate tours, groups are limited to four to six people. They're also one of the only tour groups that allow kids as young as 12 years of age to come along for the ride, as long as they're accompanied by an adult - always with safety as a top priority prior to heading out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.