How to Go on Storm Chasing Tours and Live to Tell About It

by on November 25th, 2014
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Tornado tourism is an outcropping of adventure travel. Photographers, thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies and those fed up with the usual vacation destinations are going storm chasing. Yes, it is risky; but when done right, a tornado tour can be the trip of a lifetime.

What is Tornado Tourism?

There are two types of tornado tours. One is bona fide storm chasing; you will try to get up close and personal with a forming tornado that eventually touches down. The other branch is less dangerous and may be a tour of an area previously damaged by a tornado. This damage may date back only a few weeks or months, or may have occurred years earlier. In this article, the main focus will be on storm chasing tours.

Is a Tornado Touch-down Experience guaranteed?

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of a storm chasing is the hurry-up-and-wait game. Professionally run storm chasing tours stipulate that they will watch the weather and try to gauge the potential for a storm event as much as possible, but they cannot actually make the event happen. Tour operators will generally schedule outings only when prior weather patterns have proven to result in tornado activity.

Tip: Book a multi-day tornado tour to maximize your odds of encountering a tornado. Better yet, opt for a tour that lasts for at least two weeks. Be sure to inquire about the tour group’s success rating; some operators are better than others at predicting actual tornado cells.

Isn’t Storm-chasing dangerous?

Yes, it is. Westfield State College defines tornado tourism as “the recreational pursuit of an uncontrollable meteorological event.” While the actual tornado itself is dangerous, there are ancillary hazards. For example, consider that you will be on the road for a good bit of time, most of it in bad driving conditions. Then there are strong winds, the potential for debris encounters, and of course lightning. Keep in mind that other storm chasers — pros and novices alike — will be sharing the roads with you.

Tip: Ask your tour operator for a copy of their safety rules ahead of time. For example, Cloud 9 Tours requires all tourists to remain in the vehicles when lighting occurs. Do not be afraid to ask about the types of automobiles that will be driven; inquire also about the safety rating of the company. A tour operator with no accidents on record will be proud to point out this fact; someone with a spotty history … not so much.

Are Storm Chasing Tours expensive?

Costs depend on the length of the tornado tour and the supplementary expenses that are not included in the tour packages. For example, Extreme Chase Tours charges between $2,700 and $3,200 for their packages. Lodging and ground transportation are included. Meals and weather gear are not part of the package costs.

Tip: Get a detailed break-down of included and excluded items. Reputable tour operators can give you a fair estimate of the additional expenses you are likely to incur during any of the tours.


Westfield State College; “Tornado Chasing: An Introduction to Risk Tourism Opportunities”

Cloud 9 Tours; “Frequent Asked Questions”

Extreme Chase Tours; “Tour Info, Schedule & Pricing”

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