Tempest Storm Chasing Tours
Storm Chasing Tour Review
If you are thinking about storm chasing stop thinking, just do it. It will be the greatest adventure you could imagine. If you have decided to go and are looking for a tour company to go with stop looking, Tempest are the guys for you. Tempest Storm Chasing Expeditions are great in every way, every part of the experience is taken care of, they will give you the chance to be a real storm chaser on your tour. I have had four tornado chasing tours with them now and have booked my 2013 chase. Below is a short article about how I got into being a storm chaser and what my experience of Tempest Tours has been like.
How I got into chasing-
Back in 1996 one of the greatest moments in film making history happened. Twister. The tale of the storm chasers of Tornado Alley, big screen style. Me and my younger brother James went to see the film and I was totally in love with it. I loved it so much that we went back to see it again with my older brother David.
I had always been fascinated with the extremes of nature as a kid and this film tapped right into that spirit for adventure. Soon after the film was released I found a Twister Movie magazine in my local grocery store, it even came with a poster to put on my wall. I took the magazine home and read it cover to cover a few times over. Before reading the magazine I did not realise that storm chasers actually existed, it was not just a cool movie, they were actually out there chasing storms.
My new fascination with storm chasing expanded into a love for all things weather and I soon started to buy every weather and storm related book I could find. I really wanted to be a storm chaser, me and my brother would even go out on our bicycles when a storm came over and follow it for as long as we could. Before long I had started to take pictures of the sky and was growing in my love for photography to.
One day I came across the documentary ‘The Chasers of Tornado Alley’ by Martin Lisius. This is a fantastic documentary about the real life of real storm chasers, it is very accurate and honest and leaves you with a realistic idea of what it is like to be a storm chaser. Tempest Tours are the chasers featured in the documentary so I have been familiar with them for some time. When I finally came to going storm chasing, 14 years after seeing Twister, Tempest Storm Chasing Expeditions was my first stop.
Booking The Tour –
The spring of 2010 was the chosen date for our friends wedding in Michigan, my wife was a brides maid so we would fly out a couple of days before to be there. Knowing I was going to be in America at spring time soon got me thinking about the storms I had longed to see out there. I figured as I had already payed for a flight out there for the wedding it seemed like the perfect idea to go chasing, I started to suggest the idea to my wife and she was ok with me going. That’s all I needed. I was there.
At that time Tempest was doing two short 4 day tours, I wanted to chase for at least a week so I booked them both in December 2009.
Time To Go Chasing –
A few weeks before leaving for the U.S.A. I was about as excited as it gets, I was counting down the days to chasing. One day I got an email from Bill Reid, it was sent out to all the guests and staff for the tour to introduce us all. It was great to get an idea of who was who and where we were all coming from before we even got there. I thought it was a great way to get us all ready for the tour.
Before long I was on a plane heading towards Oklahoma City and the Wingate Inn, the meeting point for our storm chasing holiday. I had a day to hang out before meeting the team so headed for the zoo and enjoyed some of the local food. That day Bill sent out an email asking if we could all get to the hotel early for orientation in the morning, the weather was looking good for some storms so we could end up with a bonus chase day. On our first morning we all met in the lobby of the hotel and had our orientation in one of the conference rooms, we had a chance to meet every body and learn what we were going to be doing every day. We soon hit the road and headed on our first storm chasing adventure. The feeling of being on the road going after tornadoes was unreal, it just felt magic.
The Chase –
Our leaders were great at explaining everything so we felt involved in the chase and not just being driven around here there and everywhere. Each morning we would meet in a room at our hotel and have a weather briefing, we would have a chance to see all the forecast models for the day and find out what they all meant for us as storm chasers. The tour leader would explain the plan for the chase and what our target was for the day and what we could expect out of the chase. It was a great way to start each day and made us all feel very involved in the whole process of tracking down storms.
The chase vans are really great, they are big and spacious and you have more than one seat to yourself so comfort is no issue on the long drives. Each van has a screen showing the radar and maps so you know where you are heading and what you are going after. Every staff member is extremely knowledgeable about meteorology and storm chasing and ensures everybody knows what is happening as the chase goes on. They were great at answering everyone’s questions also.
Food and Drink
The mornings and early afternoons of a chase are usually the slower parts of the day were you will be doing a long drive to get into position for the days storms or hanging out if you are in good position already. This is also time to make sure you eat and get snacks as stopping for a nice meal is not an option once the storms go up. It is chase time. Life on the road means an abundance of fast food and gas station snacks, finding a good bit of healthy food can be hard, but not impossible. We had plenty of chances for some sit down meals at nice restaurants when the days chase did not require a huge drive to get into position. I kept a few snacks in the van for when we were in chase mode, chases usually end late in the day meaning a late and quick dinner. Not drinking too much is a good idea also, pit stops can sometimes be a bit of a wait once you are out in the country side.
On the tours the Tempest team make every effort to make sure everybody is happy, comfortable and well fed and of course enjoying storm chasing.
The Storms –
Once on a storm everything changes, the long miles on the road have finally paid off and the road trip turns into tornado chasing. The tour directors are great at getting you to the right place at the right time and making the time spent on the storm great. I always felt safe and trusted the team completely, it is amazing how much these guys know about severe weather and how much that pays off when you want to see some big storms. Most chases go into the night if the storm does not die out early, this means you get a chance to see the most incredible lightning displays on the planet. This is one of my favourite parts of storm chasing.
Down time and Bust Days –
Many days storm chasing have some down time, even on big tornado days you can be hanging out in the country side waiting for the right conditions to come together for storm initiation. With Tempest we would spend this time having good quality meals and hanging out as a group and exploring the beauty of the Great Plains. Often these meals are in wonderful small towns in local restaurants. I have visited many old abandoned farm houses, schools and houses on chases and had a chance to see a part of American history first hand. The Great Plains are a truly beautiful place but you have to stop and explore to appreciate it all. I have only had one day with no storms at all since chasing with Tempest but I know these days are not just wasted, usually the team will get a chance to eat well and see some of the best local attractions and even National and State Parks found in the area.
I hope you enjoy your next storm chasing adventure, if you have any questions feel free to get in touch on my contact page.
Tempest website here – http://www.tempesttours.com/