As you may be very well aware of, the storm chasing tours have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent travel bans. Many tour companies cancelled their tours in 2020 completely and those who didn’t only held very few and highly restricted tours. For most, 2020 was a terrible year for chasing storms anyway so you may not have missed out on much.
Many tour companies, however, seem to plan for a regular chase season in 2022.
Expect full tours due to backlogs
As most companies had their tours for 2020 (fully) booked with no possibility to actually run the tours, they had a large backlog of guests coming back for the 2021 tours. Some tour companies cancelled their tours for 2021 as well, but most went on as scheduled.
Still, ever since the spring of 2020 there has been a travel ban for many international guests (most notably Europe) who has not been able to enter the USA since. From my experience, about 10-30% of the tour guests are from Europe so even though many US citizens (as well as Australians etc) got to chase in 2021 there is still a large backlog of European chaser tourists who may still have a tour paid for, or at least a booking with one of the tour companies.
From conversations I have had with some of the tour companies, they are expecting a 2022 with full seats on the majority of their tours because of these backlogs – especially if the travel ban from Europe is lifted.
As for now, however, the travel ban from Europe is still in place and even though there seems to be discussions on lifting it nothing has been decided. There is still an ongoing Covid-crisis in the US (as well as in many other parts of the world) so there are no guarantees whatsoever that European citizens will be able to travel to the US in 2022 either.
Are vaccinations needed?
Currently, there is no requirement of being fully vaccinated in order to enter the USA as a tourist but you need to be able to show a recent negative Covid-19 test. This may be subjected to change, of course, in time for 2022.
From what I have seen, the tour companies do not have vaccination requirements either.
If you are planning to chase storms in the USA as a tourist in 2022 as a non-US citizen you need to keep updated on travel bans, possible vaccination requirements in the future and make sure you have an insurance that will cover hospital treatments, extended stays etc in case you get sick while on a tour!
In addition, you may want to check with you storm chasing tour company of choice to see if their Covid-19 restrictions are in line with your own safety preferences.
In summary, this is the current state of the storm chasing tour season for 2022:
- Most tour companies plan to run tours as usual. Some remain undecided about the 2022 season as for now. Check the tour company websites for updates!
- Most tour companies are likely to be fully booked on the majority of their tours – due to the backlogs of 2020 and 2021. Make sure you book your tour in time!
- There is still a travel ban for Europeans and other, if that travel ban is lifted you can expect even less seats to be available.
- There is, currently (Sep -21), an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in the US and may still be during the chase season of 2022.
- Restrictions and requirements may change – for the better or for worse! Check with your tour company which rules apply if you are not able to go on a tour you have booked (and possibly paid for)!