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February 28, 2019

When a community hears about a tornado, hurricane, or snowstorm: grocery stores get raided, people hunker down, take precautions and prepare themselves for the threat of a natural disaster. Many even leave the vicinity of the predicted storm. On the other side of the spectrum, there are the part meteorologists part adrenaline junkies, who upon hearing of a storm, travel from miles away to chase it. If you find yourself in the latter group, then the safest way for you to get up close and personal with extreme weather is booking a professional who specializes in storm chasing tours.

Storm Chasing Tours are the Ultimate Wild Weather Experience

Map of U.S. showing the states in tornado alley and how cold dry air, warm dry air, warm moist air, and the jet stream mix across the country.

While storm chasing can apply to anything from a hail storm to a wildfire, the most sought after by storm chasers are tornadoes. In the United States, tornadoes are most commonly found in the Midwest, an area also known as “tornado alley”, which includes: Oklahoma, Kansas, northern Texas, North and South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Colorado.

Most storm chasers go out on missions in small caravan groups wielding: cameras, weather trackers, and communication devices. They are usually driving in vehicles specifically outfitted for storms with extra protective shielding, remote WiFi, and off-road capabilities. Storm chasing can be incredibly dangerous, it takes preparation, experience, and expertise weather knowledge. Storm chasing is not recommended for amateurs.

While storm chasing is a dangerous and unpredictable hobby, you can now experience the thrill with these five storm chasing tour companies. The people running these tours are veterans in the community and amazing educational resources for learning about weather patterns and the habits of tornadoes. They all promote safety as a priority and are considered professionals within the storm chasing tour industry.

1. Extreme Tornado Tours

Group of people on storm chasing tour standing in wheat field next to white van with tornado developing in the background

Extreme Tornado Tours offer tours that are five, seven, or ten days long from April to June.  These storm chasing tours are lead by three veteran guides, including a degreed Oklahoma University severe weather Meteorologist, Kevin Rolfs of Basehunters storm chasing. This tour company is based out of Oklahoma City.

They have vans specifically outfitted for the storm chase that have flatscreens for watching the weather, charging stations, and are even equipped with Midland walkie talkies and MicroMobiles for van to van communication. Each passenger on their tour gets their own window seat providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to safely view the power of Mother Nature.

2.  StormTours.com

Offering storm chasing tours in Tornado Alley since 1999, StormTours.com is one of the oldest tour operators in the industry. They offer tours that start from Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Denver. Led by veteran storm chasers, including degreed Oklahoma University and The Ohio State University meteorologists, they will get you to the storm!

Equipped with reclining seats, flip down view screens and charging stations, their vehicles are the most comfortable among storm chasing tours. They provide lodging and transportation. And, they also offer specialty tours, such as photography workshops for those who want to learn more.

3.  Tempest Tours

Tempest offers tours based out of Oklahoma City and Denver with a range of five to eleven days during storm season from March until August. Their team of veteran storm chasers have a combined experience of 200 years, and claim to have been chasing twisters before Michael Crichton dreamt up the 1996 classic "Twister."

They provide transportation, lodging, and an exciting and educational experience. They even offer a tour produced specifically for children on the Autism spectrum in the hopes of getting everyone involved in the storm chasing community.

4.  Storm Chasing Adventure Tours

Storm Chasing Adventure Tours will be offering 8 tours throughout the 2019 storm season, all of which are 6 days long. They will be based out of Oklahoma City, Rapid City, or Denver.  This company has been around for two decades and was the first satellite provider of footage for The Weather Channel.

This storm chasing tour company sets themselves apart by claiming that they rely more on the visual cues of the sky than radar-based weather patterns which allows them to get closer to and find more storms.

5.  Silver Lining Tours

Silver Lining offers the greatest amount of storm chasing tours annually out of these groups. Their storm chasing tours range from five to eleven days and begin in either Oklahoma City or Denver. They are co-run by professional videographer, Roger Hill, who records each storm sighting and creates tour experiences geared towards photographers and videographers as well. Roger was also awarded by Guinness World Records for "most tornadoes sighted by one person"  (he has seen at least 582). They also offer a few “Desert Thunder” tours geared towards southwestern photography. Be sure to check out their website for live footage of the Silver Lining Team storm chasing during tornado season.

6.  Extreme Chase Tours

The Extreme Chase Tours are based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, they offer small group tours most of which run six to eight days. These storm chasers also offer photography specific tours later in the season when storms are less violent and therefore safer to photograph.  Run by professional storm chaser and photographer Lanny Dean, who has been storm chasing for 28 years and has captured 530 tornadoes on film.

One Fox 25 Meteorologist said, “They explained what was going on weather wise and different weather terms used by chasers in a very approachable way so even if you never studied weather for a day you would still understand. On our storm chasing tours trip we got to see 5 tornadoes and not once did I feel unsafe thanks to the team of professionals.”

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