Here you will find answers for many of the questions you may
have about the storm chasing guide service I provide. I also
recommend reading through this page before reserving and
going storm chasing. If you still have any questions or
comments, you are still welcome to contact me.
-About the Chase
Why should I hire you as a guide rather than join a tour group?
The tours I provide are more personalized and have a high success rate. I believe you will also receive more one on one attention regarding what you want to see while chasing. You won't be crammed into a van full of strangers. Again, you are always in control of the experience you receive. Finally, the success rate of observing a tornado with me as your guide is more than 2x greater than other tours when compared against a University of Missouri survey of five storm chasing tour groups.
What do you offer as the guide?
I provide all of the additional equipment, experience, and knowledge for you to go storm chasing. As the passenger I will provide guidance that has kept years of past customers safe and successful. Unless otherwise directed, I will guide you to where we have the best chance of seeing a tornado.
Where will we be chasing?
Typically we chase anywhere in the Great Plains. I have chased as far south as the US/Mexico border and as far north as Canada. The time-frame you decide to hire me though will most greatly affect where we will likely be chasing. Earlier in the season (April-May) we typically chase further south. Later in the season (June-July) we typically chase further north. We can discuss via email where we will likely end up chasing depending on the time-frame you reserve.
How much should I be expected to drive?
I will provide guidance to the areas with the best opportunities for the weather you want to experience, but it is completely up to you how far you want to drive. Typically, I would estimate 300-600 miles per day is the usual traveled distance. Because of the distance, you should be comfortable driving a vehicle for several hours in varied conditions. However, this may vary more or less depending on the weather at the time of the tour.
Where will we begin and end the tour?
I offer flexible starting locations at cities in Colorado, New Mexico, or the panhandle of Texas. Typically Albuquerque or Denver has been used. These cities provide starting locations that can reach "Tornado Alley" quickly. Not only are these cities chosen because of their proximity to "Tornado Alley", but because they are at the intersection of interstates, serviced by major airlines, and provides other necessary services only found in larger cities. In the unfortunate event of a "down day", the local areas surrounding these cities also have many interesting attractions. The tour typically ends where the tour initially starts. Meeting at locations outside of Colorado, New Mexico, or the panhandle of Texas is an option but will incur an additional fee.
What room will you need and will my car be suitable?
The front passenger seat and room in the trunk for an additional bag will most likely be all the room that I need. All of my equipment is fully transferable with no modification to your car being necessary and operated within the vehicle. I will use DC outlets in your car to operate some of the electronic equipment. While some cars may be better suited for storm chasing, your vehicle will work just fine.
What clothes and camera equipment should I bring?
I would recommend comfortable clothes and pack for a few days. I would mainly suggest clothing for a warm environment. T-shirt, jeans, and closed toed shoes are best. However, we may also encounter cool weather after a storm or frontal passage. I would therefore also recommend a light jacket. I wouldn’t bring anything you’re afraid of getting dirty.
Don’t forget the camera, and a tripod is a must for those lightning shots.
What about meals?
Sometimes I will suggest we must eat and run, and sometimes we will be able to have dinner at a restaurant with no rush. It’s really up to the weather, and I will advise you what we should do. Typically dinner is not rushed, but breakfast and lunch can be, and often is, rushed.
What hotels will we be staying at?
We will stay where you like. You can purchase a separate room for the guide, or to save money I would be happy to share a room. Most comfortable rooms on the Great Plains can be found for $85 per night or cheaper. Note, room rates are location dependent. Some locations depending on the local economy can run greater than $100 per night. Something like a Best Western is typically chosen, but this is again up to you! I can also make reservations a few hours in advance if we have an idea where we will be staying.
Will you cover any damages?
Unfortunately, I can not cover any damages to your vehicle while chasing. It should be noted that insurance may not cover storm related damage either, since we are purposefully encountering the weather that could cause the damage. However, I rarely have any damage to my vehicle while chasing, and only one customer has come away with hail damage (the customer wanted to see hail with their personally owned vehicle). Note, hail dents are possible, and mud is usually encountered. We can also vary the distance from the storm to minimize the risk of damage. No guarantees can be made though that storm related damage might occur.
What will we do if there is no severe weather for a day?
We typically position ourselves to be in place for the next severe weather event. I work hard to ensure there are few down days. There are also attractions in and around the Great Plains that we could visit. We can also catch some rest at the hotel. It’s again, up to you.
Can you guarantee I will see a tornado?
I can not guarantee that we will see a tornado or any other severe weather event. I can guide us to where it is most likely to occur, however Mother Nature is still unpredictable.
Should I rent a car?
The decision and responsibility of choosing to rent a vehicle is ultimately up to you. I have had customers who have chosen to rent. If you are coming from overseas renting may appear to be the only option. However, it is possible that even if you have additional rental coverage on the rented vehicle, you could still be held liable for damage. In any case, you must be aware that you are fully responsible, and potentially will have to fully cover any damages to the vehicle. Note, there has only been one privately owned vehicle that has been dented during the tours. However, this possibility is partly affected by the risk you choose to take. If you do rent, the unlimited miles option is strongly recommended.
What is the best form of payment while in the Great Plains?
I recommend having a credit card while traveling on the Great Plains. Some hotels require large ‘deposits’ if you pay fully in cash. Also, it will save time at gas stations, and with storm chasing sometimes every minute counts. Although, this is certainly not a requirement to go storm chasing merely a suggestion. If paying with a debit or credit card remember to let your card and bank know about your travels ahead of time!
How much am I required to pay for a reservation?
I require a 50% non-refundable deposit to hold a reservation for a 1-2 Week trip. The full amount will be required 1 month before the storm chasing tour.
Should I go storm chasing on my own to try to save a few dollars?
Many people who have just started out storm chasing are unsuccessful and have ended up paying more because they did not go on a tour. I’ve heard of many wandering the plains for years every chase season without seeing a tornado, despite having all the gadgets. Others find the storms but their car gets thousands of dollars of damage (sometimes > $10,000) because they positioned incorrectly. Hiring me as a guide increases your chances of seeing tornadoes, and decreases the chances of a larger financial headache. Also, I will teach you how to chase if you want to learn.