Aug 032010

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Storm chasing tours and their benefit to aspiring new chasers…


Today I saw an interview with a reputable storm chasing tour owner. The question came up about who would pay two to over three thousand dollars for a week to ten days of storm chasing. This reminded me of an important option aspiring new chasers have that shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m talking about signing up for a chasing tour as an alternative to storm chasing for the first time with little knowledge of storm chasing, let alone meteorology.

It makes sense when you consider all the costs associated with storm chasing. First and foremost, you have to set aside a large chuck of money for gas alone. Then, you have to eat and pay for hotel rooms daily. You also have to worry about wear and tear on your vehicle, or rental car fees. Finally, you have to put forth an enormous amount of time and energy to make your own forecasts and go through the stress of chasing. That’s an involved list if you really think about it!

So, if you have never been storm chasing before, and you are not comfortable forecasting tornadoes on your own, paying a couple grand or more for a chasing tour can be highly beneficial. Most of these tour groups pay for you hotel room. They give you a comfortable seat in their van and do their personal best to find you a tornado. On top of that, most of these groups teach you what they know along the way. So, as long as the tour guide is experienced with a good track record, you really have nothing to lose.

As someone taking your very first storm chasing trip, going storm chasing can be very frustrating. Not only do you have to pay for everything, but you have a lot of stress just trying to forecast tornadoes. I mean, even I get frustrated, and I’ve been storm chasing for over ten years! On top of that, you have to find your own hotel every night. When you get tired from all the driving and stress, you still have to stay on top of the latest changes in the weather forecasts to give you the highest chances for seeing a tornado. I mean, you need to know if a drive from Oklahoma to South Dakota overnight is necessary to witness that one, awesome tornado. Sometimes, it really does come down to last minute decisions.

Most of all, it’s dangerous for first time chasers to go storm chasing without prior knowledge of supercells, tornadoes, and meteorology in general. Storm chasing is simply a dangerous hobby unless you have the knowledge and experience to practice it in a safe manner. In fact, I know some professional meteorologists who don’t know the first thing about storm chasing. That’s because storm chasing requires a combination of meteorology skills and experience. And without real experience out in the field chasing storms, there’s really no way to learn this hobby. That’s what makes taking a chasing tour as your first chasing trip so valuable. Doing that, you learn how to chase storms without putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Plus, your odds of actually seeing a tornado and having a great storm chasing experience increase significantly.

So, if you are an aspiring storm chaser, you might consider giving a chasing tour a try to get your feet wet. That’s my opinion anyways.


- Jim

  4 Responses to “Storm Chasing Tours: Their benefits….”

  1. Totally agree, Jim. Nice post. I was thinking about doing a tour myself. But I could probably find some other people who have chased a lot on the plains to hook up with for my first REAL time chasing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t mind going solo. . . but that would be extreme, and a challenge on my part to operate everything that’s involved. I’d do it though.

    • Well, knowing an experienced chaser who has the time to take you under their wing is an advantage the average tornado enthusiast does not have. It sounds like you have more options than most, which is terrific.

  2. I am hoping to go on a tour in 2012 when I have enough vacation time. I’ve been a storm enthusiast for 25+ years, but also know that 1) I don’t know enough to be forecasting/chasing on my own and 2) I get really hyper-excited during storms, which would benefit no one if I were out on the road. Hopefully being on a tour will allow me to see storms without making a nuisance of myself to others trying to chase.

    • Rachel,

      Good for you. That’s a smart, responsible thing to do, and it’s actually quite refreshing to hear. A lot of people in your situation would probably just go chasing to keep the cost down, and possibly put themselves and others in danger on the road. But, going on a chasing tour will end up paying off ten-fold in the long run, even though it will cost more up front than chasing on your own. As long as you choose the right tour for you, the knowledge and insight you gain on that tour might be just what you need to chase quite successfully on your own down the road. If nothing else, you are more likely to see more storms and tornadoes, and still have an overall great experience on a tour, than by going out on your own for the first time.

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