From the UK - Should I fly into Denver or Dallas?

Chris T.

Enthusiast
Dec 27, 2018
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London UK
www.clthomas.co.uk
Hello everyone,

First of all, as a newcomer it's been really helpful looking through this forum. So much great information about storm chasing, thanks for sharing.

I have a simple question - I'm looking to head over to chase in the states from the UK this coming May. My two best options as it stands is to fly to Denver or Dallas ($).

Denver is looking way more affordable but would you say it's a bit out the way? A friend told me that most of the action will most probably be around Texas or Oklahoma at that time of the year. I'm happy to drive the drive but just wondering if it's worth the extra expense to get myself to Dallas instead...

Thanks very much for you time,

Chris T
 
Mar 8, 2016
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It's kind of a gamble to be honest as both are viable starting points for starting a chasecation in May depending on where the action decides to be. Granted this year the drought situation is at a very good level compared to the last few years, which should allow for the Dryline to hang out much further west than it has in recent years so Denver might not be a bad choice at all.
 
I would say Denver. Climatology is currently favoring northern and northeastern portions of the alley. In addition, you have some very nice landscapes in the Denver region or a day / half-day drive away. You also have some increased chances of orographic generated storms if all else fails.
 
Thanks guys! really appreciate your thoughts on this.

Denver I think it will be. Really looking forward to it!

Best,

Chris T



Will do Marc! Nice one.
Hi Chris,

We're from the Netherlands and flew to Dallas for the last 5 years, which was quite ok. This year we're trying Denver for a change. As said by others, the scenery is utterly beautiful, the drive towards your target area great and it's as good a starting point as Dallas. And no worries about your starting point, you'll be driving 600-1000 miles a day anyway. =)

Hope to meet you somewhere, we're flying the 4th of May from Amsterdam.

Greetz Bonne
 
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Chris T.

Enthusiast
Dec 27, 2018
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London UK
www.clthomas.co.uk
Hi Chris,

We're from the Netherlands and flew to Dallas for the last 5 years, which was quite ok. This year we're trying Denver for a change. As said by others, the scenery is utterly beautiful, the drive towards your target area great and it's as good a starting point as Dallas. And no worries about your starting point, you'll be driving 600-1000 miles a day anyway. =)

Hope to meet you somewhere, we're flying the 4th of May from Amsterdam.

Greetz Bonne
Hey Greetz, that's good to know! How long are chasing for?

Best,

Chris T
 
Hi Chris - a fellow UK chaser here (been heading over since 1998!).
It was always Dallas for me for many years - usually modulated by the cost of the flights rather than the location - once you've arrived you'll be on the road and so it's not really that big a deal where you fly into and out of.
The last couple of years have seen us use Denver, as the cost of flights to Dallas seem to have rocketed (at least with BA out of Heathrow).

Denver has a better chance of severe weather in May, overall, I would say - quite often thunderstorms can be ongoing nearby when you land, which can be a nice way to start the holiday. Also, Denver Int. airport is on the eastern side of the city, on the Plains, and so there is no messing around getting through traffic - DFW is BUSY!
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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I think I have flown into Dallas only once in 20+ years of chasing. I am usually able to stay flexible and pick a flight within a week of starting my chase vacation, and I am able to connect to other airports like Amarillo, Wichita or Oklahoma City (which I assume you do not want to do coming from the UK), and I *still* end up choosing Denver as a starting point most years. Dallas is pretty much in the extreme southeastern portion of chasing territory, and a lot of places will be out of range for you on your first day if you start there. Now Denver is also on the outside edge of tornado alley, but at least latitudinally it is a little more centrally located - same latitude as northern Kansas. It may not seem like it, but getting to Amarillo takes only an hour longer from Denver than from Dallas; to Dodge City is only an hour longer from Denver than from Dallas. This may seem like a big difference when already driving so much, but from Denver you are also within better range of the central and northern Plains, and may luck out with targets relatively nearby in eastern Colorado or southeastern Wyoming. You’ll be happy you started in Dallas only if the first day’s activity is roughly in a region bounded by OKC to Dodge City to Amarillo to Lubbock. The southern Texas panhandle toward Lubbock has been very quiet in recent years.

As Warren said, Denver is very scenic. Almost immediately after leaving the airport, we are on the Plains! It’s a great way to start a trip, and if there’s no severe weather you can enjoy yourself in the foothills of the Rockies, go check out Boulder or Colorado Springs, etc. We enjoy being able to end our trip in Denver too, it’s a nice way to transition back to reality.
 

Chris T.

Enthusiast
Dec 27, 2018
7
10
1
London UK
www.clthomas.co.uk
Hi Chris - a fellow UK chaser here (been heading over since 1998!).
It was always Dallas for me for many years - usually modulated by the cost of the flights rather than the location - once you've arrived you'll be on the road and so it's not really that big a deal where you fly into and out of.
The last couple of years have seen us use Denver, as the cost of flights to Dallas seem to have rocketed (at least with BA out of Heathrow).

Denver has a better chance of severe weather in May, overall, I would say - quite often thunderstorms can be ongoing nearby when you land, which can be a nice way to start the holiday. Also, Denver Int. airport is on the eastern side of the city, on the Plains, and so there is no messing around getting through traffic - DFW is BUSY!
Hey Paul!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Denver. Are you heading out this year? We just booked flights a couple of days ago so really looking forward to it! I'm presuming you rented a car? If so do you have any recommendations?

Cheers Paul,

Chris T
 

Chris T.

Enthusiast
Dec 27, 2018
7
10
1
London UK
www.clthomas.co.uk
I think I have flown into Dallas only once in 20+ years of chasing. I am usually able to stay flexible and pick a flight within a week of starting my chase vacation, and I am able to connect to other airports like Amarillo, Wichita or Oklahoma City (which I assume you do not want to do coming from the UK), and I *still* end up choosing Denver as a starting point most years. Dallas is pretty much in the extreme southeastern portion of chasing territory, and a lot of places will be out of range for you on your first day if you start there. Now Denver is also on the outside edge of tornado alley, but at least latitudinally it is a little more centrally located - same latitude as northern Kansas. It may not seem like it, but getting to Amarillo takes only an hour longer from Denver than from Dallas; to Dodge City is only an hour longer from Denver than from Dallas. This may seem like a big difference when already driving so much, but from Denver you are also within better range of the central and northern Plains, and may luck out with targets relatively nearby in eastern Colorado or southeastern Wyoming. You’ll be happy you started in Dallas only if the first day’s activity is roughly in a region bounded by OKC to Dodge City to Amarillo to Lubbock. The southern Texas panhandle toward Lubbock has been very quiet in recent years.

As Warren said, Denver is very scenic. Almost immediately after leaving the airport, we are on the Plains! It’s a great way to start a trip, and if there’s no severe weather you can enjoy yourself in the foothills of the Rockies, go check out Boulder or Colorado Springs, etc. We enjoy being able to end our trip in Denver too, it’s a nice way to transition back to reality.
Hey James,

Great to know! thanks for sharing. We're gonna be out there for 12 days so hopefully, it will be enough time to experience some storms and to explore on the down days.

Cheers,

Chris T
 
Dec 8, 2003
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you rented a car? If so do you have any recommendations?
I don't know if it's even possible for someone from another country to join AAA, but if you can it might be worthwhile. I live in Colorado, and I belong to AAA Colorado, which IIRC costs about $60 per annum. When I look for a rental car I almost always find the best deal from the AAA Colorado website, even in other states and even in Ireland. While you might not save the $60 on car hire, you would also get 10% discounts on motel rooms and some meals and other stuff. Only one person need buy the membership, not everyone. Plus, even though the rental companies provide a phone number to call in case of car mechanical problems, it would give you a number to call in case of other roadside emergencies and towing short distances would be free.
 
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I am from Ipswich but I’m based in Fort Collins CO now for chasing. Denver to UK now has Norwegian Air which I have heard is good and cheaper than BA. also Icelandic air is very nice and I can recommend a stop in Iceland if you can too!

One thing to keep in mind is when in May you are coming. Prime season for the Colorado high plains seems to hinge either side of June 1. So late May I’d definitely say yes. Plus if your chasing window lands you in a death ridge there are the mountains to kill time in. As a photographer I also find the high plains produce more photogenic storms. My main chase area is CO, Wyoming, Nebraska and western Kansas. I have chase all over but haven’t even chase Oklahoma since the 2013 El Reno tornado!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Jun 16, 2015
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quincyvagell.com
As others have echoed, if we're looking at the second half of May (which is climatologically favored to be at/near prime chase season), I'd give a slight edge to Denver. Eastern Colorado/western Kansas perform quite regularly this time of the year and access to I-70/I-135 can get you east and south across Kansas fairly quickly. The OK/TX panhandles aren't far away either and they tend to light up around this time as well. Late May is also when the northeastern Colorado upslope period really starts to heat up, as some years will have a lot of activity only a couple of hours away from Denver.

Dallas isn't a bad option either, especially if we're talking about early to mid-May. The issue with Dallas is traffic and that if a target area is in the central Plains, you're going to have to drive several hours to get into position. The other problem with the first half of May is that down periods are more likely, even if that is when North Texas/southern Oklahoma tends to peak with tornado threats. While in Dallas, you'll almost always have to go north to chase, but while in Denver, you may go east, southeast or even north/northeast.

This may not be an option for the OP, but others who may be debating, a larger hub that often gets overlooked in Kansas City. Sure, it's a better option if you're looking to chase between the last week of May and any time in June, rather than earlier in the season, but it seems to be fairly reasonable with prices for flights. Geographically, it's in a prime location if you're chasing in late spring, being only a few hours of most parts of Kansas/Missouri/Nebraska/Iowa. Like the other two cities, there is a lot to due around Kansas City as well, from sporting events to breweries, dining, etc., where there is downtime.
 
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Hey Paul!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Denver. Are you heading out this year? We just booked flights a couple of days ago so really looking forward to it! I'm presuming you rented a car? If so do you have any recommendations?

Cheers Paul,

Chris T
Hi Chris,

Yes, we'll be out. Picking a car is based on personal preference - a larger car = more costs, but also, generally, more comfort. We go for an SUV, as we're basically spending most of the holiday in the car and so we want it to be a nice environment. Besides, you have more room for luggage and equipment, as well as multiple power points for hooking up your various chargers, laptop, and so on.

Regarding things like breakdown cover - we tend to just add it on at the rental desk - you can often get a bit of a deal, e.g. they might give you a free additional driver, or maybe even a modest upgrade if you take some extra cover. Certainly make sure you are fully covered including windscreen cover!

When it comes to things like motels - join all the rewards programmes! We've enjoyed several free nights after collecting points!
 

Kai-Asle

EF0
Mar 17, 2006
23
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Denmark
www.stormhunt.org
Hi all.
Interesting thread. I'm a chaser from Denmark. I've been chasing since 2006.

11 times we've flown to Dallas. The first night we usually stay at Days Inn in Irving at the end of the runway.
It's a very short drive from the airport. Behind the motel close by you have Wallmart, Verizon, AT&T and Chili's.
All you need upon arrival. We always rent cars from Expedia. That way you are sure what insurances you get.

However the last couple of years tickets for Dallas have become increasingly pricy. Therefore Denver sounds tempting.
In 2014 I actually chased just outside the airport. So I'm glad I found this thread. Thanks.

A lot of good suggestions and advice have already been given. But I would recommend Wyndham Rewards programme. One of the best I've tried.

I conducted a very non-scientific study. It seems that most of the time we've gone West of Dallas.

2006 - Dallas, May 16th, West, New Mexico.
2007 - Wichita, May 1st, South, Oklahoma.
2008 - Oklahoma City, May 5th, Southwest, Texas Panhandle.
2009 - Dallas, May 10th, East, Shreveport, Louisiana.
2010 - Dallas, April 29th, North, Kansas/Nebraska.
2011 - Dallas, May 22st, North, Oklahoma.
2012 - Dallas, May 4th, Southwest, Texas.
2013 - Dallas, May 12th, Southwest, Texas.
2014 - Dallas, April 20th, Northwest, Texas Panhandle.
2015 - Dallas, May 17th, Northwest, Oklahoma.
2016 - Dallas, May 20th, Northwest, Oklahoma.
2017 - Dallas, May 9th, Northwest, Texas Panhandle.
2018 - Dallas, May 15th, Northwest, Texas Panhandle.

See you out there in May.

Kai-Asle
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
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Denver would be my choice between the two for reasons already covered, particularly later in the season.

Interesting, I didn't realize that the only direct flights from Heathrow to the Midwest/Plains were Denver or Dallas (and Chicago). What is the typical departure airport for cross-country flights in Europe? Are there other options? I would have suggested KC also per Quincy's post, but that would require at least one stop and plane change. Wichita would seem to be worth the one extra plane changeover in terms of getting to a more central location in chase alley. For an extra 2-3 hours of air travel time, it's might save you 6-8 hours of driving. Just thinking of a typical end-of-trip deal where you end up in eastern KS at the end of a wave ejection sequence kind of like the May 22-26 2016 period.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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^^^ Agree with ICT as probably the geographically ideal base in my opinion. I usually go with Denver more because I can get a direct flight and there are more flight options, enabling me to be flexible about when I start my trip and still get out there the night before the first chase day. As Dan says, ICT is particularly good as an ending point; there were many years that I started in Denver, waited to schedule a flight home until I figured out what would be convenient, and ended up heading home out of ICT. Great city to hang out in too, love the Old Town area, the minor league baseball stadium, great bars and restaurants, nice way to transition back to real life on the last night of a chase vacation.

In case you’re wondering how I get around the cost of such last minute flights, I still have a ton of miles from when I used to do a lot of business travel; and also from my airline credit card. By using extra miles, I can get a flexible ticket, or just book last minute. Also Southwest has reasonable last minute fares, although I refuse to use them anymore, for other reasons I won’t go into here. Ironically, it’s actually the rental car issue that becomes the biggest financial concern: it can be ridiculously expensive to rent in one location and return at another.
 

Chris T.

Enthusiast
Dec 27, 2018
7
10
1
London UK
www.clthomas.co.uk
Hey all,

Thank you so much for your advice (above)
Was fortunate to see some spectacular storms and along the way met some great people. I felt like I learnt a lot.

Definitely would love to come out again next year! Until then I'll hope for some late-summer storms to hit London.

If you're interested, I've attached a few images from our time chasing. Thanks again!

Chris

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Screen Shot 2019-06-15 at 19.00.29.png
 

Lou Ruh

EF2
May 17, 2007
136
24
11
SE PA
Wow Paul that’s amazing, what a unique experience, to start a chase trip in a snowstorm! That’s got to be a first!
Not really. Back in mid-May 2015 we drove through real snow near Somerset, PA on our way out to the Plains. Not quite to the level that Paul saw, but, it was real (unfortunately, no pictures).
 
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