Extreme Storm Chasing Companies

I love all extreme sports! If I haven’t tried it yet, I will be trying it tomorrow and nothing is too crazy for me. Several years ago, I watched the movie Twister and I’m sure I’m like many of you out there who immediately thought “I want to do THAT!” I watched the movie again and again and decided to have a look at how best to go about going storm chasing.

Extreme Storm Chasing

I spoke to some of my extreme sports buddies and they were all game to go. So off I went looking for different travel tour operators providing the ultimate storm chasing experience, and here’s a few of the ones I considered:

Storm Tours

Storm tours offer the ultimate extreme sports storm chasing adventure right in Tornado Alley.  Brian Barnes is the founder of Storm Tours and has been a storm photographer for many years. Through Storm Tours, you can either go on a 10 or 6 day storm chasing holiday in Oklahoma or Kansas. I loved the sound of this group, particularly because Brian is obviously into extreme sports, but struggled with the choices! Do I go to Oklahoma or Kansas? Do I go for 10 days or 6? Decisions, decisions.

One other thing I really like about Storm Tours is that they tell you – for free – what items to bring as a minimum, so even before I decided on which company to go with, I went on a shopping spree and bought:

Extreme Storm Chasing

Storm Chasers

This company caught my eye because they promise that they offer free rescheduling in case of no-severe weather. Warren Faidley runs this company, and he has featured many times on the Discovery Channel on their storm chasing programs. One of the things that I really liked about this company is that you can choose how involved you want to be, but you are basically expected to be a working volunteer, which means you will get real hands on experience. They have also received extremely positive reviews and have been A1 rated by the National Storm Chasers and Spotters Association.

Temp Tours

Temp Tours caught my attention, not because of their professional website, but more because their website seems so incredibly unprofessional. It’s just an enormous collection of photographs of tornados that they have been able to intercept, and it made me think that this company does it for the thrill and not for the money making – they are obviously so busy chasing storms and taking excellent pictures to worry about creating an award winning website. This one has definitely tickled my curiosity!

Weather Gods

Any company that calls itself something as fancy as Weather Gods has to be taken into consideration, of course! They state that they are the world’s number one storm chasing company and provide a really interesting log of their success rates. It seems that this company was really started for the thrill of the chase, which also made me like them quite a lot – I want to use a company that does it because they love extreme sports and want to share that excitement with others. Of course, they can make money out of that but the financial side should not be their main driver – in my opinion anyway. So yeah, Weather Gods has certainly caught my attention.
One of the things I also looked into is what would happen on days that there is no weather that can cause storms. Of course, storm chasing is dependent on the weather and that is something nobody can control. After much consideration, I felt that a 14 day holiday would probably be best, that way I would have the most chance of encountering at least one good storm. It seems that most of the companies mentioned above are really good with their tourists in case there are no storms, they know lots of stuff about the surrounding areas, so you can go on all sorts of fascinating attractions.

Of course, there is nothing like speaking with some extreme sports experts, even if there is no storm, they can really make you feel like you were there with their amazing stories of past storm. Plus, you can take the time to familiarize yourself with the equipment so you can be of bigger help when the time comes to use it. Apparently, it does happen that people just want to be driven around chasing after the storms, but for me and my extreme sports friends, it’s all about the taking part – I want to be right on the edge of the action and not just sit back and watch – I can just watch Twister over and over again if that’s what I want!

At present, it seems we are all liking Storm Tours the best, mainly because Brian Barnes seems to be a person that thinks like a true extreme sportsman, and it is nice to be surrounded by likeminded people, who don’t think you’re slightly crazy for liking all things extreme!

We are still waiting to make a final decision, but time is starting to press. The next tornado season is between April and June and places are going fast! Has anybody used any of these companies before, or do you have some great tips on other companies that we could look for? Please do share your experiences with us, to help us make a more informed decision. We are hoping to go towards the middle of May next year, so watch this space for a full report and pictures of our adventures, here’s hoping that the chase will be a really good one!

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3 Responses to Extreme Storm Chasing Companies

  1. Gary says:

    Storm Tours is not a very good group to tour with. We went on their tour this year. The van was badly out of alignment and shook violently. The air conditioning did not always work. The “state of the art” storm chasing radar, was nothing more than an Ipad. There was an old computer in the van, but it was never used. On one occasion, we had to walk a few blcoks to dinner, because Brian did not meet with the group to take us like we were told. We paid for six days, but did not go out at all on Saturday. Upon first meeting Brian, he seems interesting, but after a couple days you realize that he is more windy than the storms we are hoping to chase. We only saw one super cell, which broke up before the tornado formed. I realize that is not his fault, he has no control over the weather, but all of us were extremely disappointed with the quality of the tour and Brian’s behaviors. I would like to go on another tour, but no way with Storm Tours.

  2. Jolande says:

    Thanks Gary, back to the drawing board we go then I guess… Like you said, what the weather does or doesn’t do is no one’s fault but the atmosphere and service still needs to be good… Have you had any positive feedback on other operators?

  3. John says:

    I wish I had read this sooner, after reading Gary’s comment, I also want to chime in. I’ve been on going storm chasing as a customer of Storm Tours for many years. Before I went on my first tour with Brian, I had tried a different company had had a bad experience. Brian and his other team members have always met (and often exceed) my expectations. He has had every commercially available radar system in that van over the years, and upgraded from Mobile Threat Net to GR Level 3 and then yes, he now primarily uses an iPad. However the software that he has on the iPad is the “state of the art” system, its called RadarScope and he uses a 3rd party data system along with it. This app and the 3rd party data that he uses is Level 2 data! Compared to GR Level 3 that’s like an SD Television being compared to an HDTV. If you compare it to Mobile Threat Net (what most others use) its like comparing HDTV to a B&W TV. The Level 2 data that he is using is the best there is. As far as the van goes, its a machine that is built by people and he abuses it to no end, which he does for our sake. Brian will take “challenging” roads when he needs to in order to intercept a storm. Some of those roads are more like Jeep trails and he’s doing it in a van that was designed more or less to be a church bus. Thus, things break. It sounds like the front end was out during your tour and it sounds like to me that he should have sat you guys up in a hotel for a few days while he got the front end repaired (it was fine on our tour in 2011). But did he? No, he gave you a tour and tried to get you a storm, so give the guy some credit! Its also interesting that you went in 2011, Brian only did a few to tours that year because he was volunteering overseas for a wildlife NGO and he witnessed more death and destruction in Japan i n March of that year due to the tsunami than any of us could ever imagine in our wildest nightmares, his footage of the event is unreal. How the guy was fuctioning at all when he got back to the states is beyond me, but he was there for my tour and yours as well. He has never disappointed my wife and I and we’ll be chasing with him for as long as he’s willing to continue his tours.

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