Base City for Chasing

Hope everyone's having a great weekend so far.

I will be taking the first two weeks of May for chasing this year, and was considering two possible choices for my base city; I thought Oklahoma City or Wichita might be good places to start.

I heard some of you guys talk about OKC being a bad choice to chase from, because of traffic congestion and the road system. Last year, I stayed in Wichita and thought it was a great location, because you could get out of the city quickly if something promising came up.

Do any of you have some thoughts on which city would be a better choice?

BTW, John Erwin: Cool to meet another Winnipegger here! We should grab a coffee sometime!
 
I'm not sure OKC is a bad place from which to base... Road networks allow you to take interstates E, NE, N, W, SW, and S, which is certainly nice. ICT would be a fine choice, but realize that your major road options aren't as expansive (given you only have interstate options N, NE, and S, though there is a major route W). In early May, nearly the entire Plains area is game, though I'd say that northern/western TX / OK / and KS areas tend to be the hottest. By mid-May, that usually shifts northward into NE. Of course, any place during May can be hot...
 
Staging Cities

We tend to use Salina, KS quite a bit when we overnight on our way to the Southern Plains. Not the greatest town, but you can find a room at a decent price - especially if you like the smell of green curry. :lol:

In the latter part of the season, I like Omaha quite a bit. This is because of having I-80 and I-29 to get in all directions. JMO.
 
If you want to use Wichita, there are three excellent hotels that participate in Priceline, the Hyatt, the Radisson and the Marriott. Check 3-Star (only) and bid about $58/night. Because their restaurants are open late and early (6am), they are conducive to both chasing and getting a good night's sleep.
 
Scott and Robert are right - unless you are getting a great rate on a hotel for the whole 2 weeks or are staying with a friend, you really don't want to tie yourself to a base city. You have to be able to move with the weather, and your base will need to move every day, sometimes 500 miles or more.

You will be chasing anywhere from Texas to Colorado to South Dakota, and more often than not be WAY too far to make it back to your base in in one day (and back out to the next target). In fact, at the end of a lot of chases, you will barely have enough time to sleep, wake up the next morning, and get to the next target in time - let alone having to worry about getting back to your base hotel.

For instance, if you base in Wichita and have events in Texas and Nebraska all season, you'll be paying for hotels twice.
 
You will be chasing anywhere from Texas to Colorado to South Dakota, and more often than not be WAY too far to make it back to your base in in one day (and back out to the next target). In fact, at the end of a lot of chases, you will barely have enough time to sleep, wake up the next morning, and get to the next target in time - let alone having to worry about getting back to your base hotel.

That's right - there really is no "base" chasing - or at least there shouldn't be. I know a group that for years never saw a tornado because they set up a base and wouldn't move. When they finally learned to go with the storms they have caught many.

There is nothing to say your "base" would ever have a storm even if it is the very heart of Tornado Alley. Climatologically it has a better chance but that doesn't mean anything in the day to day.

If you want the best chances learn to forecast and pay attention as well to SPC. Plan on being at the center of the best action preferably the night before and then fine tune the next day. After a chase, analyze the latest models and check SPC. Attempt to move to your next target as soon as possible so that you have time to re-adjust the next day again as well. Try and plan it so that you get some sleep, but a lot of good sleep often isn't an option if you are serious and dedicated to chasing a good storm and possibly catching a tornado.

Sometimes you may have to sleep in your car on the road, or preferably you can 'shift' chase where you have a partner and swap off sleeping and driving.

Anyway it is true that often the action is repetitious in a general area (such as Kansas) for a week even though it is usually different parts of the state. So, technically it is possible to only move to different towns within the state and find a motel. More likely though you may be moving to different ends of a state or crossing over into another state and finding places to stay on the fly.

Many times I've done extreme examples of this and crossed many states back and forth.
 
I agree with Dan et al. on the matter... I don't really see the need for a base city, unless you plan on staying with friends in a particular city, it would be silly to be tied down. In 2005... I found myself staying in Norman, OK and Hastings, NE quite a bit, but I stayed with other chasers/friends. Heck, that's part of the fun of taking chase vacations... The traveling involved with it. Like Dan said, you could find yourself moving hundreds of miles a day for days on end -- and it won't be fun paying for 2 hotel rooms (i.e. you have a room already booked in ICT or OKC and your in North Platte after a chase at Midnight).

Scott and Robert are right - unless you are getting a great rate on a hotel for the whole 2 weeks or are staying with a friend, you really don't want to tie yourself to a base city. You have to be able to move with the weather, and your base will need to move every day, sometimes 500 miles or more.

You will be chasing anywhere from Texas to Colorado to South Dakota, and more often than not be WAY too far to make it back to your base in in one day (and back out to the next target). In fact, at the end of a lot of chases, you will barely have enough time to sleep, wake up the next morning, and get to the next target in time - let alone having to worry about getting back to your base hotel.

For instance, if you base in Wichita and have events in Texas and Nebraska all season, you'll be paying for hotels twice.
 
I agree with all of the above. "Home" is one thing, but a "base city" idea is horrible and probably harks back to when chase tours tried to convey a bit of a military approach. A couple of well-known chasers did the "base city" approach last decade (for reasons unknown) and they came to be known as being on their "250 mile leash". They didn't see much, either.

You do have to flow with the weather. You will get seriously hosed if you stick with, say, Oklahoma City all season and north Kansas & Nebraska ends up being the place to be. If you go up there to stay overnight, then you're paying for 2 hotels at once.

Also, if you're just visiting, you're going to get bored with a base city. Moving around nomadically gives you an awesome ability to see all corners of the Great Plains and get a different experience every week. It's an opportunity a lot of us who have homes in the Plains don't really get, because we're on a leash of sorts.

A good compromise is you can snag a hotel's weekly rate, then judge the location of your next stay on next week's long wave pattern. Forget the monthly rate!

Tim
 
Very good points from all; thanks for all your responses. I guess this way of thinking comes from being more than a little green :lol:

I guess I was thinking of a base in terms of which city my flight would be going to, as well. In thinking about it, I guess that doesn't really matter much, as long as I leave myself enough time to make it back in time for the departure date.

You can really find out some cool stuff by moving around, too. I ended up in Grand Island for a night last year, and was shocked to find out that there really used to be an island there. Some of the locals didn't even know that!
 
Originally posted by John Hudson

I guess I was thinking of a base in terms of which city my flight would be going to, as well. In thinking about it, I guess that doesn't really matter much, as long as I leave myself enough time to make it back in time for the departure date.

Ok, well that is a reasonable thing to consider, but how you approach it will depend on how flexible you are. Ideally, you could pay attention to the weather patterns as your time off approaches and within a few days have an idea of where the active weather for the weak or so will be. In that case you get a plane ticket without much advance. Most people however are more limited and looking for deals on prices. In that case you may book weeks, a month or more in advance. In that case you may have to start looking at climatological considerations. We have another thread going about that currently. OKC Amazing Facts is part of it http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9992.

Here's another post with some interesting info on where to go and when: http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9963.

Actually after this being a La Nina year and listening to Susan Strom on La Nina lightning http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/viewtopic....0082&highlight= I'm starting to think it may be a good idea to hang at OKC from April 26 through May 6th or so this year looking for 'THE BIG ONE'.
 
That is what I was thinking when you said "base city." Based on 1999 alone, Wichita and OKC are good choices. Coming into a city, I would say OKC to start, since that gives a better shot at chases in the panhandles to start if Oklahoma doesn't have anything. Many of the very good events in KS start in early-mid May (although, they can start early). Again, look into climatology first.

Another thing, Haysville, a southern suburb of Wichita also got hit by an F4 that same day OKC was in 1999. The tornadic storms started on April 3rd and the morning of April 5th (Wichita got hit by an F0 that morning) that year in southern KS, so if the pattern holds close to 1999, it shouldn't matter too much.

If you want better road options, choose OKC. If you want a better chance of hitting good flying conditions, I'd choose Wichita since the winds will probably cause a bunch of turbulence.

Wichita is due for a hit with all of the events they were fortunate to miss in 2003 and 2004.
 
Kansas City and Dallas tend to be cheaper cities to fly into than OKC, Tulsa and Wichita.

One thing I found out last year when my brother flew out to chase with us is that you can often fly into many of the tiny airports in the Plains for the same price as flying to a major city. The ticket for flying from Raleigh-Durham to Kansas City cost the same as flying into Manhattan, Hays, and a few other small Kansas towns. We flew my brother into Manhattan from Raleigh via KC for something like $250. You obviously will have to change planes and fly in on a small aircraft but it does give you more options on where to arrive or depart.
 
I like Colby KS because of the fake palm trees :)

I don't normally use a base city, because I just move around too much. If I did though, I might be inclined to choose something in western Kansas, such as Garden City. It's a nice town with plenty of services. It has easy access to eastern CO as well as the hot corridor of western KS, TX, NE and Okla panhandle. Plus you can see forever out there and I often have good luck.

I'd probably say no to Wichita, too many youth sports teams about, taking up all the motel rooms in the springtime. Hard to find a room sometimes there on Kellogg Ave. However, Wichita does have a Starbucks. And last time I was in there the barista was from Phoenix :)
 
Back
Top