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.
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 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:
- Zip-off trousers
- Sun screen
- A nice light weight wind jacket
- Some sandals and some tennis shoes
- Some soft luggage – there isn’t much space in the cars so you can’t shop up with a full Louis Vuitton suitcase set, of course
- A PDA – much smaller but just as handy as a laptop
- Some polarized sunglasses
- Good photography and video equipment
- A power strip and surge protector
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 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!
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!
Creative Commons photo by Reinko Hallenga