FAQ's Frequently Asked Questions
What is Tempest Tours?
Tempest Tours is a storm chasing expedition company. We introduce the science and romance of storms and storm chasing to guests. Our team is comprised of some of the most experienced and successful storm chasers in the country. We emphasize safety, education and responsible conduct.
What's it like chasing with Tempest Tours?
See our latest photos Watch "Chasing a Tornado Outbreak with Tempest Tours" 8 minutes
Is Tempest Tours safe and responsible?
Yes, we place safe and responsible conduct above all else. Our staff receives an annual orientation which centers around very strict safety guidelines. All guides must be approved by our insurance company prior to each season. Members of our team are responsible for creating materials for the National Weather Service to train storm spotter groups nationwide. We have carried expensive, commercial-grade insurance since the start of the company in 2000 with no claims filed during that period. And, we do not "drive into tornadoes" like some people that have appeared on TV and the Internet.
What does each tour include?
All tours include chasing and lodging during the tour, and an exclusive chase team T-shirt. Guests are responsible for meals and extra lodging prior or after the tour. During the tour, each guest will have an unobstructed window view in our clean, comfortable, roomy, smoke-free, air conditioned, owned and carefully maintained vans. In order to maximize safety, logistics and maintain the quality of our product, we will operate a maximum of only two vehicles per tour. Tours depart from the base city hotel. Guests are responsible for transportation to the base city. A free airport shuttle is provided by our base city hotel. There are no extra fees like fuel surcharges, baggage fees or booking fees.
What can I expect to see and experience if I go on a tour?
You will learn and experience all aspects of storm chasing. In essence, you will live the life of a real storm chaser. It is likely that you'll see significant storms and possibly tornadoes. On fair weather days, we will tour National Weather Service facilities, as well as natural and historic points of interest like Mount Rushmore, the Twister Museum, or Palo Duro Canyon.
Will I see a tornado if I go on a tour?
There's no way to know if guests will see a tornado while on tour. Tours are scheduled during the US tornado maximum, and are lead by skilled storm chasers. It is likely that guests will, at least, see significant storms such as supercells. Each day, we will forecast and go to areas of highest tornado risk.
Do you drive into tornadoes and other damaging weather?
No. We view storms close enough to see incredible things such as tornadoes, but far enough to be safe. We do not "drive into" damaging weather and do everything possible to avoid these hazards.
Which tour offers the greatest chance of seeing tornadoes and supercell thunderstorms?
Our tour dates and base cities are selected to coincide with the highest frequency of tornadoes in Tornado Alley. All tours offer an equal chance of seeing tornadoes and supercells, on a per day basis. Naturally, the longer the tour, the greater the chance of seeing significant storms. To learn more about tornado climatology, and the best time to chase, click here.
Where do you chase?
We chase in an area of the US called "Tornado Alley." Tornado Alley spans the Great Plains from Texas to the Dakotas. We travel throughout this area to reach our forecast targets.
How do you know where the most significant storms will occur?
Our team analyzes weather data the night prior to, and the morning of each chase day to determine a target. The tour group departs for the forecasted target, usually in the morning, with an expected afternoon intercept. The Tour Director will refine the target throughout the day as he acquires new data. Once at the target, we intercept storms when they develop.
Is storm chasing really like the movie "Twister?"
No. "Twister" was a fictionalized portrayal of storm chasing. In reality, successful storm chasing requires careful forecasting and planning. Storm chasing is a serious discipline that demands constant attention to logistics, safety and changes in atmospheric conditions.
What are the risks involved with storm chasing?
Our team exercises safe practices at all times. However, as with any outdoor activity, there are some risks involved. An excellent document authored by our Lecture guide, Dr. Charles Doswell, examines the risks of storm chasing in-depth. Link to Chuck Doswell's article "Storm Chasing with Safety, Courtesy, and Responsibility"
What is the Lecture Tour?
Our Lecture Tour is hosted by renown tornado scientist Dr. Charles Doswell who presents an informal yet comprehensive discussion on storm chasing during the tour. Dr. Doswell shares his insight on forecasting, logistics, and safety.
What are "base cities" and how were they selected?
Our base cities are Dallas-Ft. Worth, Oklahoma City and Denver. They were chosen for their proximity to the highest average risk of significant storms for the corresponding time period.
Do you camp out and stay in tents while on the tour?
We are asked this question on occasion. The answer is no, we stay in clean, comfortable motels each night. Staying in a tent would not only be uncomfortable, but also potentially hazardous if a severe storm were to threaten the area.
Will I have a window seat?
Yes! Each guest will have an unobstructed window view in our clean, comfortable, roomy, smoke-free, air conditioned, owned and carefully maintained vans. In order to maximize safety, logistics and maintain the quality of our product, we typically operate only two vehicles per tour, but never more than three.
How do you calculate tour fees?
Tour fees are calculated by combining costs and reasonable profit. We could reduce fees by reducing chase days, but that would reduce chances of seeing significant storms. Our 5-10 day tours are long enough to see storms but short enough to fit into busy schedules. Also, our guide to guest ratio is very good and is rarely less than 1 to 4.
Which tour should I go on?
If you have the time, consider our 10-day tours. If you prefer a shorter tour, consider our 5 or 6-day tours. If you want the best possible experience, consider one of our Lecture Tours. All tours are scheduled to coincide with peak tornado activity.
Is Tempest Tours insured?
Yes. To compliment the safety measures we practice on a daily basis, we posses a complete commercial insurance policy. Read, A Tour Operator's Responsibility
I'm ready to go! How do I sign up?
Once you have determined what tour you want to attend, visit our registration page and complete the on-line registration application. Seating is limited, so register early.
Why chase with Tempest Tours? Click here.