2007 chasing & Chase Vacations.


Just wondering with how bad the 2005 and 2006 chase seasons have been for most if it will change how and if you chase in 2007 with fuel costs on the rise still. When I went out for my mini vacation last week I did not see any other chasers except for when I stayed at the same hotel as the F5 Torado Safari tour to so I could say hi to Geoff Mackley before he went back to New Zealand.

I have been very slective on the days that I chase but other then the Memorial Day chase just south of Minneapolis, I have not seen any other chasers out this season who are not local or skywarn. I'm wondering if there really are less chasers out there now and will there be less next year?

I dont think too much will change, esp. with people seemingly teaming up more and more on chases to help with fuel costs. I dont think I will really change much of what I am doing. The one thing I may cut down on is chasing very marginal setups far away. I think most chasers will not change too much and will be ready to chase in 2007 after a bad 2006. A reason you may have not seen most chasers is because most of the setups lately have been marginal and up north. The northern plains chasers were probably chasing but not many from TX/OK etc. People will always chase esp. us diehards and I think in the years to come there will be more and more chasers. As far as chase vacations go it is really hard to tell. Unless you can take off at a moments notice when the pattern looks good it is impossible to pick a good week or two really far in advance. A lot of this is luck of course. Early part of May was the best in 2003, the end of May the best in 2004 and May 2005 and 2006 had no real good period. However the first two weeks of June 2005 were awesome. Some people may change what they do a little bit, but I dont see too many big changes for next year.
I agree with Chris. Some will be weeded out, so to speak. But others will chase for the first time. And die-hards...well they are die-hards. It is becoming more expensive and the last two years more difficult, but even in a VERY lean May, we crossed paths with numerous chasers and witnessed large chaser gatherings multiple times during our two weeks in the plains. Perhaps this is because the storms were slim pickin's, but even after returning home, I have had many friends inquire about traveling with us next year. There will always be overwhelming fascination and passion by at least a small percentage of the population. I can only speak for myself, but my future chase plans have not changed due to this May or the high gas prices as of yet. I might have to get more creative in the bugeting department, but I intend to make it happen if at all possible.
There will be people who get frustrated and quit, but it won't change things because a batch of new people will take their place. Chasing is like life. For every retirement there's a new beginning somewhere else. It will never "down-size" as long as it remains such a business-oriented activity for so many.

As for 2007, I'll be out there. I'll always be out there.
People might chase less often, but fewer storms mean more chaser convergence, so that may better account for seemingly seeing more chasers. They are simply more likely to be where you are given fewer storms and chase days.

I am chasing in 2007, but will devote more consideration to the week or two I pick based on ENSO and drought climatology.

It's a rough year to be a chasecationer, especially for folks overseas. When I consider their dilemma I can't really complain myself.
Was in States for my first time this year, had 12 great chase days in one month period, so I am pretty happy with my first success, including one brief tornado near Patricia.

As for 2007, I am almost sure that I'll chase again. Of course I am a bit worried about all this since 2005 and 2006 being bad years, but hey you can always stay at home and complain about everything. There are both good and bad things everywhere, its the same with weather and/or chasing. You should expect anything to happen, lets just hope we won't have a third bad year in a row, or better said a third May!

I love chasing and always will, tornado Alley really impressed me with everything and made me even more interested in this stuff, with improved knowledge and new experiences. Also my dreams became true with these vacations! Thanks to my chase partners Jimmy Deguara and his group, we had a great time and looking forward to have another great time in the future.

If I am allowed to touch fuel costs, if anything was CHEAP there, that was the gas...everything was pretty expensive for me, the food, drinks etc. The gas here is exactly $5.00/gal at the moment, wanna chase here?? And our car fuel comnsumptions are ~25% less than yours, but gas there is still cheap as hell!

The only thing which is hard to us overseas guys is that we have to plan things few month before like work holidays, plane tickets reservations, etc. Wish I could leave home one week before action, well in 2006 it wouldn't help, lol.

As a conclusion, I will probably chase there in the next seasons, no matter how much does it cost and where I'll have to go. We spend a lot just to come there, so further expenses don't bother me at all. Cheers!
I don't plan on letting a weak season or higher gas prices keep me from doing what I love. I generally need to plan my chasing dates well ahead of time so I end up taking what I can get, if I bust then I just do a lot of sightseeing instead.

I agree that we'll likely see a lot more car-pooling for chasing, and that just makes good sense. I've usually chased alone but I've had a lot of interest from friends etc. and may have to look at sharing costs for next year and so on.
I purposely left off teaching in June a couple of years ago so I could have more time to chase and take extended runs to other states. I would not call my time as chasercations because I am mostly here in KC\ area waiting.

I have a little less then a month before I am stranded for long chases during that two week period but I get to show my students storms, my tornado videos and do more earth-space stuff with the computers. They love learning and looking at the doppler stuff and my personal tornado videos.

I plan to chase the rest of this summer when I can, next year and after....

I just can't afford to run all over the US to catch marginal stuff. But if there are possibilities I will go if there are some ripe possibilities. And if there is someone to go with , that is even better (to share costs, pass the time) etc. If not by myself.

Nice thread.
I agree with most of what has been said here. When you really think about it, chasing is a lot like playing the lotto - you can't win if you don't play. I believe that many chasers here, including myself, don't consider seeing a tornado the only way to "win" the game. There are so many other very satisfying outcomes to a good chase, like a nice storm structure, lightning pics or the copper sky of a Plains sunset. And, chasing is so much a social experience. We get to meet each other, trade stories and a bit of laughter.

Unfortunately, economic realities are forcing some of us to make changes, but we'll always find a way if we have the will. Chasing is not merely a hobby for many here, but instead has deeper meaning and purpose. It is part of who we are, a reflection of our natural curiosity to learn more about things we cannot control.

For myself, the days when I would fly to Wichita and commit myself to ten or fourteen days out in the field are likely over. Instead, I will continue to do what I've done this year, and drive to the more promising setups in the central and northern Plains. Statistically, there doesn't seem to be much difference between north-central or south, and if storms dry up, I can always just drive home and wait for another day.

I am blessed that I have the ability to chase when the skies begin to speak, so I'll continue to seek out the rewards of one of nature's greatest mysteries and artists - the weather.

I'll always have a strong love for the atmosphere -- even if a given year is a piece of crap (chasing wise). I'll generally whine about a crappy season (and driving way too many miles in it), but I will always be out there.

Oh, and for the record -- please don't compare this year to 2005. Last year was in no comparison to this year... We actually had numerous chaseable, slow-moving tornadic supercells across the plains during the MAIN season -- that many chasers got to capture. This year, if you didn't chase much of April -- and didn't wanna keep up with storms with an average velocity of 55mph, then you were screwed.
I am sure I will be out in some shape and some form next year and every year until I can not chase any longer. I had a fantastic yearly 2006 season and May even produced for me so I can not complain too much.

The yearly season was a challenge and I can tell you I had to work for what I got, but it made it that much more rewarding. Chasing 55mph storms is not easy, but it was one hell of a ride. Chasing to NE and having to be at work the next morning was not fun, but I would not trade it for anything. I guess what I am trying to say is that I will chase 55 mph storms just as I would 25 - 30 mph storms. Also to me, the marginal setups are for more interesting than the perfect setups. I like them because they bring a little more excitement to the chase.

This year was a gamble for most of us. If you are like me and are on a budget, then you have to spread that $$$ over time or pick your chase frame. Luckily I had budgeted for March. April, May, and June and luckily (for me) the later of the two went to crap and so did my budget thanks to Uncle Sam. Lol.

Regardless of whether 2007 is like 2006 or 2004 I will still be out there.

I plan to be back out in May 2007 with Dave Carroll and whatever students we have along, hopefully as great a group as we had this year. We actually had a darn good chase trip this year, mainly because we had the time and willingness to chase unusual setups in widely dispersed areas. On the first day of our trip (May 14), we punted traveling west to chase North Carolina, and actually filmed a tornado outside of Durham. We caught a multiple-meso supercell in Illinois on May 17 (moving southeast with a disturbance around the eternal upper low) that produced many exciting storm structures. And we had quality intercepts in Colorado, South Dakota and Wisconsin, the last two of which included possible tornadoes (and a busted chase of a tornadic supercell in Indiana).

So a typical Plains chasecation, it was not ... but uprooting ourselves from daily life for 2 weeks, we were willing to go far and wide to find what storms there were. This was fun for 1 year, but in 2007, I'd just as soon we have 2 weeks within a 150-mile radius of Amarillo, Texas.
I will be back in 2007. Just due to "regression to the mean", 2007 can't be as bad has 2006. I will still schedule two weeks, probably the last two in May. I will use Delta instead of American since changing is a little less expensive. I will also try to leave some leway in my schedule to shift the vacation slightly if necessary. I enjoy chasing even when I don't see a tornado but chasing hundreds of miles for marginal stuff in the Dakotas gets a bit old and expensive. I will usually blow off marginal stuff if it gets me out of position for the nice trough coming in a few days. Those blow off days can be fun to hike, take pictures and explore.

Bill Hark
I've discussed this scenario many times with many people; and while I think its a great discussion, I can't imagine that you're going to get an honest answer from storm chasers replying to a storm chasing forum. Most of the people who will severely cut down and/or quit probably aren't going to make it well known, so I'm sure you're going to get a lot of "I'll be back" replies to this... and yeah, and by the way, I will be back, too!

I theorize a decline in vehicles as opposed to chasers in the coming seasons. Higher gas prices are easily recovered when divided among several people. I think you'll see less one-person-per-vehicle types and more platoons flooding out of one vehicle.

I'm curious about chase tour companies and how many of those will be around as much next season. I mean, two years in a row of rather meager storms has got to put a hurting on the business. While the terrain of New Mexico is gorgeous, I cannot imagine its worth the thousands of dollars to see. Yes, the law of means has to come into play, but two years in a row like this has to get some people thinking about whether or not to do some practical with their two weeks.

Whether anyone will admit it or not, I think there will be a noticable decline in chasers next season due to many of them teaming up into fewer vehicles AND those that simply aren't chasing. I'm sure the first May high risk day will bring about the masses, but for those planning months in advance to chase for two weeks from afar, I think you'll find many of them doing normal vacation stuff or simply not coming out.

But for me, as long as I live here, I'll chase til I can't see anymore. There may be some modifications in terms of my planning, but I'm not cutting back or giving up. I enjoy too many outside aspects that chasing brings to completely write it off because of a few bad years. This is my passion, and as long as I am able to get out, I'll always be content... even if I do b$$$$ about how bad the weather sucks! :lol:
I just came back from my first plains 2 week chasecation. I must say I had quite a good time! We managed to get on some real good storms such as the eastern Colorado haboob (man did that thing ever organize itsself) on May 31 and tornadoes near Huron, South Dakota on June 5th.

Before I came down I was worried about the lack of storms and that I wouldn't see much, but we did plenty of travelling and we did get to see something. It may have been a quiet season, but there were some pickin's that made my trip worthwhile!

I plan to go back again next year. I cannot foresee myself quitting something I love to do because of fuel costs or a quieter storm season.
Maybe more attention given to the March and April setups from those that wait for May and June usually.


I think that every year you have to look at the big picture. March, April, May, June, September, and October for the southern plains are all the months I keep an eye on very closely. I guess you could think of it like investment diversification I guess... You never really want to put of your nest egg in one single fund. Spreading it out to different funds and over time will save you on the downturns (at least those are the statistics).

Granted I know many are not so lucky as to be able to "diversify" their chase time due to money, vacation restraints, and geographical limitations so I guess I only speak for those who do not have those restraints. Now it is not easy for me to take off work especially last minute but I have made the arrangement with the boss so that I can take my vacation here and there instead of a week here and a week there. I guess I should count myself lucky I guess. If you are in such a situation though spreading the time and money out for the long run is a much better bet. If you are not, well it’s like going to Vegas; sometimes you win sometimes you loose. May / June are never a 100% bet.

It’s all about being prepared for the worst and when the worst hits you, and it will, not letting it hit you while your pants are down. That’s what my plan was for this season. I just needed to make things last until it went to crap. I will do the same next season, with the exceptions I will only be able to chase on Thursdays, Fridays, and through the weekends.
This year's trip was a real treat. Even though the good setups were nowhere to be found, we still got some nice shows, and I got to spend time with people I really enjoy and get to see all too rarely, and remember what it was like back in school.

It was a freedom I haven't known in a long time, and I really miss it.

For me, 2004 took a lot of the pressure off. I no longer feel quite the degree of life-or-death pressure riding on each chase decision.

So yes, as others have said before...I'll be back.
The main effect that 2006 will have on my future chasing is that my annual chase trip 'standby' period of May 1 to June 15 will probably be extended to April 1 to July 1. My 'standby' period is when I don't make any concrete, long term plans for anything else during that time, meaning at any time I am free to leave for the chase trip.
In a strange way, it may be a good thing that this year has been so slow. I have seen an increasing number of people chasing in the last few years and some of them do not have any business being out there. To be honest, I am fearful that someone with little knowledge (and a lot of recklessness) may be killed doing this and/or kill one of us in the process (drive off the road and kill a legally parked chaser, etc.)

While many of us love the sheer spectacle of nature and desire to obtain a greater knowledge of storm dynamics, I imagine that all of us probably know someone who is simply an adrenaline junky who has more guts than brains when it comes to chasing.

As far as my own chasing goes, I plan to be out there in 2007 (and hopefully still 2006). One of the major concessions that I do plan on making though is to give up chasing in my extended cab F150 and begin to chase in my Taurus. Gas prices are killing me in a vehicle that gets ~15 mpg and I need a substantially more efficient vehicle. Other than that, I do not plan to make too many changes.
Michael and I had a decent year and I count my blessings that I was as lucky as I was on such a marginal year. They included a Tornado Day, a Gustnado Day, a Funnel Day and many, many mothership meso days.

Some of the more outstanding days for us were:

May 7, 2006 Garden City, KS - 3 Tornadoes, 1 landspout all bearing down on Garden City.
May 23, 2006 Eastern South Dakota - numerous gustnadoes, 1 non-meso Tornado doing damage on I-29
May 26, 2006 Cedar Point, CO - Too many funnels to count on a highly sheared meso
May 28, 2006 Badlands, SD - Tornado warned meso
June 9, 2006 Mullen, NE - Tornado warned meso

I was also lucky to have my vacation such that I could take a big block off from the end of May till mid June as well as have enough to move around for 'high potential' days. Here's to hoping it's not all over yet (or did it ever really begin??)

Definately a go for us as long as I can throw a brick on the accelerator and point myself east! :)
I had a pretty decent year as well, considering the now-legendary status 2006 is attaining.

March 30 - Two tornadoes including an exclusive in southwest OK
April 1 - Supercell with rotating wall cloud in west OK
April 6 - Despite a clusterf*ck day, we still managed a tornado-warned cell with wall cloud in southeast KS
April 15 - Tornado and funnel in southeast NE
April 18 - Tornado-warned, rotating supercell in north MO
April 24 - Two supercells, including a tornado-warned cell in northeast OK
April 28 - Tornado in southwest OK
May 2 - Brief but nice supercell storm with wall cloud in northwest TX
May 9 - Tornado-warned supercell with rotating wall cloud in southeast OK

13 chases
9 supercell days
6 tornado-warned storm days
3 tornado days
5 of 9 supercell-or-better days in my home state of OK

Now that I look at it, I had a pretty good year. It was just cut short. Had May or June been average, I might have had a great year.
After nearly crying in 2003, 2004 and 2005 because I didn't have my driver's license and couldn't chase any of those incredible setups, I was excited about this season because I finally got my license and could chase. And.... all that excitement for nothing. I drove about 800 miles this year and saw one brief tornado, some decent supercell structure and got caught in golfball size hail twice. Those were the highlights for the year. Of course, with my sh***y luck, the first year I'm able to chase has to suck monkeys. :angry: But the one thing 2006 has been VERY good far thus far is lightning. I think this is because of the drought, because the air has been so dry for so long it has built up static electricity, which enhances and 'charges' the storms to produce wicked lightning shows. I've taken almost 200 quality lightning shots thus far, and I'll probably have 300 more by the time our storm season ends in late September. I will chase again next summer; I'm saving my pennies and hoping that 2007 will be another 2003 or 2004, because in the world of weather, one extreme usually begats another, right? ;)
Also, there is a small ray of hope for the monsoon season. Some of our best tornado days we've ever had occurred 6 years ago in the midst of the first year of the drought. The first was on July 5, 2000, when a low visibility F3 smashed through a half dozen farms north of the town of Dailey just after dark, and the second was on July 21, 2000, the day of the highly visible Riverside F2, which I witnessed but unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me. And we always have awesome supercellular structure and great lightning, so even if there aren't any tornadoes the other two usually more than make up for it. So there is some meager hope yet for another 2000 repeat in the western High Plains, but otherwise 2006 looks dead in the water to me. :(