Storm Chasing Photography 2010

 Storm Chasers Adventure Tour

In 2010 I finally went with storm chasing adventure tours, Tempest Tours, this had been a moment I had been waiting for since I was a kid after seeing the film Twister. After spending a week in Michigan for a friends wedding, Alison headed home to London while I got on a plane to Oklahoma City, the meeting place for our storm chasing tour. It was a strange feeling flying to a new place on my own but the feeling of excitement was the most overwhelming. It was one of those moments I could not quite believe I was actually doing it, I was going to be a storm chaser.

I arrived in Oklahoma a couple of days before the chase began so I hung out at the hotel and even had a trip to the zoo, i thought it was a good way to prepare for my adventure. We had received an email from our director Bill Reid that day asking us to get to the hotel early in the morning as there was a good chance we could catch some good storms on our arrival day.

We all met in the lobby and had our orientation, we soon hit the road and headed north out of Oklahoma to chase tornadoes. Though we did not get far enough to intercept the big storms that had been going on that day we did find a small evening storm in eastern Colorado, the sunset that night was amazing. As we were heading to the hotel we spotted famous tornado chaser Warren Faidley in his custom storm chaser vehicle, he is well known for his footage of tornadoes and storm chasing photography seen on many storm chasing websites.

Our next two days chasing didn’t bring any great storms but we did have a great time exploring old abandoned stuff on the first day around Sugar City in Colorado, it was very relaxed for a tornado chasing holiday. The next day storms developed a little early and never got them selves organised enough for a good show, we did manage to watch some nice storms develop after sunset. We were set up next to a train line watching these for some time, we called it a night when one of those 80 mile long trains decided to go by.

Our next day was the third full day of a four day tour and we were more than ready for some big storms. We could not have hoped for a better day, not only was it the highlight of our trip but even the staff who spend a couple of months chasing each year said it was one of their season highlights to.

We started the day in Kimball Nebraska where we had spent the night, the town had been hit by a severe hail storm that year that had left every south facing window in the town smashed. We hung around town for breakfast before heading out to our target area close to town. By the afternoon storms started to develop close to our area, Bill took us south to the southern most storms developing. By the time we reached the storm it had developed into the most incredibly structured supercell then within a few minutes a tornado started to form. This had now become a tornado chasing tour.

As we watched, the storm produced two or three tornadoes, they didn’t last too long and only touched down in open fields so there was no damage. We had a good amount of time to set up for some great tornado alley photos, some of the group got their tornadoes on video as they had hoped for. We followed the storm as it tracked across the plains, we had many chances to stop and take pictures in the open fields. We followed it into the night for the most incredible lightning show right above our heads.

The next day was the final day of that tour but after the Last Chance chase we felt like we could go home happy. Our final day turned out great also with a fantastic high precipitation supercell, we managed to get pretty close for some great views of the extremely low hanging base. I managed to take a nice panoramic shot of the storm also.

The next day we headed back to Oklahoma City for the end of the storm chaser vacation. I had booked a double tour so was staying for the next four day trip starting the next day, booking two did get me a nice tour discount.

The next trip didn’t give us any big storms but we did get a good number of small low precipitation supercells that put on the most incredible sunset shows I have seen. I got some of my best weather photos and storm pictures ever on that second trip, I was glad I had a chance for some tornado photography on the first tour.

Our final day of the tour was spent chasing in Kansas, we ended up on a good storm that once again was not very severe but put on the most stunning displays of shapes and colors. I came away from this day with what is probably my favourite storm chase sunset pic at the bottom of this page. at the end of the evening the local sheriff stopped by to see what the storm chasers were all up to, he hung around with us for a while and even got in the final storm chaser photos of the group.

On our final day back to Oklahoma City we stopped in Greensburg, Kansas. Greensburge had been almost totally wiped off the map a few years earlier by a sever tornado that passed right through the small town. Much of the town had been totally rebuilt now and they even had a storm chasers store on the high street. I went strait in and got my storm chaser t shirt to take home with me, they had tons of storm merchandise with amazing photos of thunderstorms and storm chasing videos. There were lots of before and after the ‘Greensburg Tornado’ photos on the wall,  the damage that extreme tornadoes cause was quite terrifying. It was great to see the town getting back on its feet.