The term storm chasers have been given to just about anyone who either enjoys tracking all types of storms in person or has a professional background related to the storms or any severe weather condition. A background could be a meteorologist or student as well as a photo journalist or someone studying photojournalism. Storm chasing encompasses all kinds of weather: tornadoes, hurricanes, lightening and even some severe cloud formations. The popularization of storm chasing and television coverage has been so well received that some people have established storm chasing tours. So how dangerous are they?

If you watch the television shows on storm chasing, you get the general idea that the people involved are just not "too well wrapped". They seem to put themselves in dangerous situations with potential harm to themselves and the rest of the crew. In reality, many of the storm chasing tours that have been established seem to be based on the fact that they will share the experience, but they don't get close enough for harm to occur. There have (so far) been only two documented deaths associated with storm chasing. With all of the media coverage you would think there would be a higher incident rate.

There seem to be a number of storm chasing tours on the internet that you can sign up for. The cost varies, anywhere between two and three thousand dollars. In most cases, you are joining a limited crew of professionals who are familiar with the potential dangers. The comparison could be made that you are going on a tour, not entering into the actual den of a wild animal. Seeing the phenomenon in it's natural condition.

Don't get me wrong. There are dangers involved. Most people that are injured during severe weather are not the storm chasers, but other people that are simply not paying attention to the weather situation.

Getting near to a tornado is very risky business. High winds and flying debris can cause damage to technical equipment, the vehicle and the people. In most cases, storm chasers get close but not too close. Their goal is to record the event and get home safely. Tornadoes often bring hail as part of the weather process. Sometimes, the hail is large enough to cause mechanical damage to vehicles. If someone is caught out of the car, they can also be injured.

Chasing lightening during storms is a totally different variety. Lightening is one of nature's most beautiful and deadly creations. As long as you stay within the confines of the vehicle, your chances are very excellent that you won't be struck by lightening. Only a few storm chasers have come close to being hit, and they were not inside their cars.

There are very few organizations that will participate in hurricane storm chasing. Mostly because local authorities wont allow it. Unlike tornadoes or lightening, hurricanes can cause an event that is not easily escaped. The severity of hurricanes are approached only by the highly professionals. The dangers are elevated to the next level when there aren't any obvious methods to leave.

To answer the question, how dangerous are storm chasing tours? It all depends on the people who have established the tours and their level of professionalism and desire to survive.

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2 Responses to “Storm chasing tours: how dangerous are they?”

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