It goes without saying that there is significant risk involved with voluntarily placing yourself in the vicinity of a tornado. But what about guided storm chasing tours? Is the same amount of danger involved? The answer is yes and no.
It is much less dangerous to travel with an experienced guide, and as long as you wear a safety belt and don’t do anything silly, you will be kept safe.
In fact, when it comes to storm chasing, it’s hardly ever the actual tornado that poses the biggest threat of your safety. It’s more commonly less monstrous things like car accidents that are the greatest risk.
It’s sort of like shark attacks. In certain areas, diving is thought to be a dangerous sport because of them, and while they do sometimes happen, they’re very rare. Drowning is a much more common occurrence, it just doesn’t make news headlines like shark attacks do.
Keep at a distance
You may think of movies like Twister or television shows like Storm Chasers and imagine a guided tour might play out like it is depicted on screen. But that couldn’t be farther from reality.
Storm chasing tours do not aim to drive straight into a tornado, and instead stay far enough to be out of harm’s way. Tourists can watch the magnificent twister from a comfortable vantage point without being in imminent danger.
Lightning and hail are dangerous
Compared to tornadoes, other byproducts of storms like lightning and hail are a bigger risk when chasing storms. A lightning strike can be fatal or severely harmful. And if you get caught in a hailstorm and have strayed far away from your tour vehicle, you can get hurt pretty badly.
But as long as you follow instructions given by your tour guide, and practice good safety precautions, you will be just fine.
The potential to see the spectacle of a big storm is extremely exciting for chasers. Their energy levels peak as the skies show signs of storm development. And in certain storm-heavy corridors, there might be several other chasers on the roads experiencing the same “storm frenzy.”
While it’s fun to be a part of such an exciting tour, traffic safety cannot be neglected. Make sure your driver’s eyes stay focused on the road, even if a magnificent tornado is in their peripheral. It’s also important for your guide to park their vehicle in a safe spot, as far away from lanes of traffic as possible.