To be quite honest I think I'd want to be on that one, lol. I'm not making fun of them, but actually serious and have a point here. This is from a silver lining tour btw. From Roger Hill's page: http://www.stormchase.net/ . Best would be in what a person wants. I've seen the most storm chase footage from Silver Lining(Roger's tapes) as well as from Tempest Tours(Bill Reid and others), so those are the 2 I'm most familar with. I'd say if one was very safety orientated Tempest would be a better route. I'm sure Silver Lining is plenty safe as well, but they do get closer on more occasions. So if you wanted to be in the thick of it more I'd say Silver Lining. I love footage from both and both styles, but I lean more towards wanting to be in things(though very slightly). Either are a safe bet.
Cloud-9 tours is another safe option. Perhaps their style is more in the middle of temptest and silverlining. Probably haven't seen enough footage to judge much. I'd say they are all about as good at catching good storms, but each seems to have a slightly different chasing style.
Cyclone-tours is another, but I'm not sure if they are running in 07 or not?
The ultimate way i judge the storm tours is by which company ive seen on storms when no one else seemed to be on them--the surprise storms that no one seemed to forecast. By that criteria, i'd have to give the nod to SLT.
But there is way more to running a good tour than just getting to the goods (as i learned when i ran my own tours!) so each co will have its own advantages. I would agree with the list Mike has, might also add http://www.stormchasing.com
based on the number of times ive seen Todd & co out on the road.
It will be interesting to see whether this horrible season has wiped out the competition, and whether that void is filled by newcomers hoping to cash in. The older companies definitely have an advantage, since the profit margin aint exactly huge when it comes to chasing!
Speaking of TRADD (if you don't know, do a search on this forum), I actually saw them out this year for the first time! I've seen most of the other tours numerous times through the past few years, but that was the first time I'd seen TRADD.
Yep. I concurr. I've been on 3 Trips with them the last 2 years and in addition to being SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper (about $1000 for 10 days and the only thing left to pay for is food), you get college credit for the Trip.
You can take an active part in the morning discussions or sit back and enjoy the view.
Good friends and great times from all the Trips I've been on.
Feel free to email me with any specific questions.
I've been with several tours. IMO there are something like 6-10 which are quite reputable and experienced IMHO. This is a controversial subject, and several tour operators are ST members.
Some questions for your prospective client where reputable and competent tours differ are:
1) How interested are they in the meteorology aspect, participating in the chase decisions, or even driving?
2) Are they flexible when they can go, and would they prefer another host city than OKC?
3) How long do they want to be out for?
4) Why do they want to go, e.g. for photography, for excitement, for learning about storms and meteorology, health and exercise (wrong! )?
5) Is their personal economy such that they want a premium or a more economical tour? How many are going?
6) Would they prefer a smaller group (<8) or a bigger group (>7)?
I've been a forecaster/driver for Storm Chasing Adventure Tours now for the past 5 years. I must say that its always been fun and I always enjoy talking to people that share an interest in severe weather or meteorology in general. I've had several conversations with people interested on going on a chase tour and them trying to figure out which tour you want to go on. In 2001, I was also interested in chasing with a tour and I personally researched every known tour company at that time and based my decision on email conversations with either tour owners or guides. Todd Thorn, the owner of Storm Chasing Adventure Tours, appreciated my knowledge of meteorology and this was something he was looking for at that time and invited be back the following year to help out and he has invited me back ever since. Here are some pointers:
1. Don't base the decision solely on technology...think about experience, track record with finding the best storms, etc.
2. What do you want to gain from the experience? Majority of the tourists have very little or little background in meteorology. What background do the individuals in charge of the tours have? From this again I would contact someone within the company either by email or phone and ask them the questions you want answered that isn't posted somewhere on the website.
3. Remember this: The number of storm chase companies out there have increased a lot since I took my first tour back in 2001. I have spoken with many of the other individuals involved with Tempest Tours and Silver Lining Tours, mostly by being on the same storm or even running into them at a restaurant or hotel. They have the experience and the knowledge and I know you'll get a great education with them as well. I've seen several storm chase companies out there over the last 5 years and some I've seen one season and never seen them since. A lot of these start up and their done within a chase year or two.
This is only my opinion, the best ones out there that I know of through colleagues and friends are: Silver Lining Tours, Tempest Tours, Storm Chasing Adventure Tours, Cloud 9 Tours, and College of DuPage (no particular order)
Finally, obviously everyone knows this has been a very slow year. From this, what do the tours do when the chances of seeing tornadoes are slim or not at all? Do they "abort" early in the day or do they make best of what mother nature gives them and go from there? I can only speak for myself, I just love to chase because I have no idea what kind of photo I may obtain or what I might actually see. 6400 miles of chasing for 2 weeks this past spring and we saw storms 9 out of 12 days including two of the best lightning producing storms I've ever seen on May 25 near Amarillo and May 28 near Murdo, SD. Successes vary from year to year, have to keep that in mind.
Susan, I would go to some of these chase company websites and look at their contact info. Don't be afraid to ask them the questions you want to know the answers too.
I started my chasing experiences by going out with Silver Lining Tours in 1999 and 2000. I brought back a lot of memories and gained much valuable experience by spending time with people like David Gold and Roger Hill, among others. I would recommend Silver Lining Tours very highly. IMHO, Roger Hill might be the best chaser on the plains.
One of the other tour guides we had for my 2000 tour, Bill Reid, broke off from Silver Lining and now works for Tempest Tours. I still keep in contact with Bill, and while I personally haven't went out with Tempest, I know former Silver Lining Tour participants who did and enjoyed the experience.
The vast majority of tourists who were out with me those two years could care less about how storms form, they were only interested in the end result. However, if you had an interest in the dynamics, like me, the guides loved to educate you. I used the experience I gained on those two tours and captured a tornado on my very first solo chase.
If you'd like to talk more about the tour experience, please PM me.