Hurricane Chasing Tours?

Jade Vajna

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
8
8
1
Vancouver, Canada
Anyone know of any tours or veteran chasers that take people on hurricane chases? This is something I've wanted to do for the longest time, but I want to be smart about it and go with people who have experience and not just go alone or with a total random. Any info would be great! Thanks! :)
 

Jade Vajna

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
8
8
1
Vancouver, Canada
I've never heard of anyone doing it although I've had a lot of requests over the years. To get into the "genuine" action requires a very tactical and risky operation. Your best bet might be to find a very secure hotel (like where the media stays) and ride it out there if they will allow you. Just stay away from windows.
Thanks Warren! Yeah, I thought about doing that. I actually almost flew down to the Carolinas for Hurricane Matthew but when I phoned the hotel, they said that they would be evacuating the next day. I think that's my biggest concern, being kicked out of a hotel and then being stranded somewhere alone outside. I think I worry more about my personal safety with regards to other people than the storm itself. Things can get sketchy when there's no power, cell reception, etc.
 
Jul 5, 2009
843
518
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
That’s a mystery to me also, how you find a place that will allow you to stick around in a major hurricane. You have to be in place before they start closing down roads, and if you have to make a last minute positional adjustment and can’t find another place to stay, what then? I find the logistics of hurricane chasing to be quite vexing... 🤔
 
I have yet to cover a major hurricane (including Katrina along the Gulf) where there was not at least one coastal hotel that stayed open. Sometimes you can bribe the resident of a sturdy condo to let you stay. The secret is to have multiple inland "safe locations" in the event you get kicked out. Unfortunately, it's not always that simple. You also have to consider road closures (contra-flow, tunnels, ferry and bridge closures) and what you will do after the hurricane. I never stay at a location where a massive storm surge could strand me for days / weeks. It's much easier to chase a Cat-1 or Cat-2. Once you get above Cat-3, then there is a lot more planning, sometimes taking days in advance to scout out locations.
 
Last edited:

Jade Vajna

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
8
8
1
Vancouver, Canada
Yeah for Matthew, I had planned on staying at a hotel on Myrtle Beach as it came on shore as a Cat 1 or 2. I figured for my first time, it would be good to start with a lower Cat. But it ended up staying out to sea anyway, so it's good that I didn't go down.
 

Bill Hark

EF5
Jan 13, 2004
1,254
171
11
51
Richmond Virginia
www.harkphoto.com
I guess you could contact some veteran hurricane chasers directly though I don't know if any of them would want someone tagging along. Some might need an extra person along to help with expenses or assist with photography and equipment. Unfortunately, a go or no go decision is often made at the last minute depending on landfall and schedule. I definitely would recommend going with someone experienced or with a group with some experience. Don't go by yourself for the first time. I've heard it can be a pretty miserable experience. I've seen some articles written on Facebook or Stormtrack detailing the fun and not so fun of hurricane chasing. I can give you some suggestions of people to contact if you want, contact me privately. I personally do not chase hurricanes other than look for tornadoes in the NE quad after landfall if close by home.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jade Vajna

Jade Vajna

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
8
8
1
Vancouver, Canada
Thanks Bill! I have started talking to one person who can probably take me if they end up chasing one.. So I have one lead so far! But I will DM you for sure. :)
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,393
2,056
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
@Chris Collura posted a fairly thorough writeup on hurricane chasing in this thread: Hurricane Chasing

I can concur, a hurricane chase is a marathon of very little sleep and lots of discomfort. You're basically urban camping out of your car in a major disaster area for days, with no food, gas, cell service and more afterward. Heat and humidity after the storm is oppressive. The rain will soak you to the core and the inside of your car. You have to be completely self-sufficient from beginning to end with lots of extra food, water, fuel and tools to fix flat tires and other damage. Risks for damage and injury are very high compared to the average tornado chase. Vehicle damage is a near certainty even with a good shelter. Your cameras will be at risk as it is almost impossible to keep anything dry.

Steel-reinforced concrete parking structures with at least 2 levels are usually the only real option to keep both you and your vehicle intact from flooding and debris. Without a parking structure available, I won't intercept a major hurricane - mainly because I want to have a car to drive home afterward!

All that being said, being in the eyewall of a major hurricane is one of the most amazing experiences I've had, it has certainly been worth the effort and discomfort.
 
Last edited:

Jade Vajna

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
8
8
1
Vancouver, Canada
Yup! I'm aware of all of those things.. Which is why I don't want to go alone. I have said for years now that hurricane chasing sounds like camping during the zombie apocalypse. I've watched a lot of videos and I've chatted a lot with George Kourounis, who's been in lots of them.. And yeah.. A concrete parking garage seems to be the place to be.
 
Jul 5, 2009
843
518
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
Hurricane chasing is on my bucket list. Growing up on Long Island, hurricanes were actually the catalyst for my interest in weather, before I got into tornados. I would always go down to the beach when a hurricane brushed by the coast, and still do, making the short drive from PA to the Jersey shore. But I never actually traveled anywhere to chase a landfall. As I mentioned above, the logistics seem daunting to me. Being able to stay at a hotel without being forced to evacuate can’t be easy. I agree with Dan that concrete parking garages are ideal, but how many shore towns have those? The combination of a landfalling hurricane during daylight hours in a place with suitable structures seems to be rare indeed. Seems like it could take decades to find that peak experience, but I salute those who have been fortunate enough and put in the hard work to have done it.
 

James K

EF1
Mar 26, 2019
88
32
6
Colorado
Seeing a major hurricane is something I too would absolutely love to do....in particular the eyewall, and inside the eye.
But what I'd truly want isn't really do-able (unless one had access to a helicopter or something): Get in, watch the storm, get out ..I really have no interest in seeing the devastation/destruction afterwards.
------------

Dan Robinson said:
@Chris Collura posted a fairly thorough writeup on hurricane chasing in this thread: Hurricane Chasing
This was certainly a good read.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jade Vajna
Not speaking to a specific request but I have previously evaluated such. Not really feasible for cane tours the way tornado tours are done.

That said, high dollar, very flexible schedule individuals may be willing to pay. But then the liability question comes into play. Look at how many chasers had close calls during Micheal. That is an outlier but in terms of a practical review it serves as a valued aspect to be considered.

Like Warren I have had many offers and requests but in the end no one committed due to time or money. It is hard enough to keep a chase partner happy nevertheless a paying client 😂
 

James K

EF1
Mar 26, 2019
88
32
6
Colorado
Jason Foster said:
I’ll have to find a thread to discuss rhis further (or start a new one). There is a huge risk with garages that most are over looking.
Maybe I'm thinking wrong, the one thing that comes right to my mind with a parking garage would be: what if the storm surge (or more technically all the large crap floating in it) takes out some of the support columns? Basically "take out the foundation and the rest comes down"
In the real world I don't know if that would be an issue, but I couldn't help thinking about it. The same sort of thought sometimes crosses my mind in large buildings - 'if something was to happen to some of these columns', would the whole thing come down.
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,393
2,056
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
That did happen in Katrina, the location escapes me but it was a nearby casino barge that broke loose and took out the corner of a structure. Most locations, that risk is pretty low as ships big enough to do that would have to be offshore in the middle of the storm. Most ships are moved out of the way of the storm. You'd mainly have to worry if there was something large moored nearby. Also, most parking garages aren't right on the water but a few blocks inland.
 
Last edited:
I did an extensive survey of parking structures following Katrina while in Biloxi. I suspect I'll be back someday. The biggest problem was not so much the total collapse of parking garages, but rather, the ramps leading / in out of the structures. Many ramps were constructed as somewhat free hanging concrete slabs that were displaced and fell -- or some were undermined by the 15+ storm surge. Thus, you would not be able to exit. I always carry 30-40ft. of climbing rope just in case. We might want to move this topic over to hurricanes, but it's a good discussion to have.
 

Bobby Little

Supporter
Mar 18, 2013
14
9
1
56
eagle, michigan
I agree warren. The first thing i thought about these garages was that the massive debris will flows/blow/collect in at the lower level... thus making it very hard to leave the structure.
 
I should note that many private, paid and similar garages now close off the entrances and exits as soon as the storm threatens to protect stored vehicles. This almost happened to me following Irma, despite promises from the security company that they would keep the exits open. There is no guarantee either way, so enter at your own risk.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Andy Wehrle
May 6, 2017
42
35
11
Minnesota
I know several people tried to do Hurricane Chasing Tours and even Blizzard Tours a while back and it did not work. Unlike the tornado chasing tours, you are on call 24x7 to try and fly into a location that is shutting down and as others have said you will have zero services.

I did manage to chase Hurricane Michael, you can read my write up on the blog www.hurricanemichaelblog.com that details the crazy events from that chase where only skill, knowledge and a little luck got me to be able to drive through the right front quadrant of the Cat 5 and surf the surge into the eye of the storm where the blue sky lasted only about 10 minutes while hearing the lightning and roar a mile away as I was in the calm with birds flying over head. I've also chased the insane 2004 and 2005, 2008 2011, 2016 hurricane seasons and rode out Katrina in New Orleans and got the heck out the next day when locals started pulling guns on others and total chaos started to take place as rescuers were stopped by the flooding on the interstate.

I thought about doing the tour thing for a long time with a few people that keep asking to tag along but several factors get in the way. Do you know this person? Will they panic and freak out in the eye wall? Will you get along with this person? If they are in their own vehicle and they break down, what are you going to do? I can pretty much count on one hand the number of people I would chase a hurricane with and trust them with my life. And that is just it, you need to trust them with your life.

As for parking garages, a lot of places are just kicking people out of parking garages now for liability. You might get lucky with an AirBNB but even then, they might kick you out. I know in hurricane Matthew, my hotel shut down and kicked everyone out. All the AirBNB options said no because the Governor of Florida put out a mandatory evacuation order. You could try and stay with all the other media but most cases they stay out of the worst due to insurance liability.

One thing that I will remember after Michael was the fact that after the storm, I did find people that were messed up. Then it was another 90 minutes before I saw another soul so I was walking around ground zero thinking other then the injured I had to help out, was I the last one left alive?

Hurricane chasing is Not Storm Chasing. A tornado takes out a town, just go to the next town over and get food, fuel, hotel, and anything else you might need. Hurricanes take out cities and entire coastlines, counties and as others have said you have to be self sufficient for everything from food, fuel, water, bathroom and what do you do when you find you are the only one on scene to help injured people in a evacuation zone that did not evacuate or worse yet, coming across someone that has passed away.
 

Jade Vajna

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
8
8
1
Vancouver, Canada
Wow, this is a lot of info! Thank you all! The parking garage thing is definitely something to consider. I guess it just depends what category you are dealing with and how far inland the garage is. And I agree.. The person/people you go with have to be people you trust and get along with. Ideally, I could go with people I know. But we'll see.
 
May 22, 2019
14
13
1
Los Angeles
Anyone know of any tours or veteran chasers that take people on hurricane chases? This is something I've wanted to do for the longest time, but I want to be smart about it and go with people who have experience and not just go alone or with a total random. Any info would be great! Thanks! :)
Look up Jeff Piotrowski. One of my favorite chasers that I follow on Twitter who always seems to be live tweeting from inside the eye wall of the biggest landfalls. I remember his broadcasting from inside Hurricane Harvey a couple years ago, he's amazing.
 
Oct 10, 2004
1,088
133
11
33
Madison, WI
Hurricane chasing is Not Storm Chasing. A tornado takes out a town, just go to the next town over and get food, fuel, hotel, and anything else you might need. Hurricanes take out cities and entire coastlines, counties and as others have said you have to be self sufficient for everything from food, fuel, water, bathroom and what do you do when you find you are the only one on scene to help injured people in a evacuation zone that did not evacuate or worse yet, coming across someone that has passed away.
Well said. Probably the only tornado event aftermath that comes close to approximating that of a major hurricane landfall is a once-in-several-decades outbreak like April 27th, 2011, where a big chunk of northern and central Alabama had widespread and prolonged power outages (and thus lack of operating gas stations), numerous roads impassable due to trees, power lines and debris, etc.