This article will try to provide the guidelines for how to narrow down which tour company and tour to choose when you book your storm chasing tour company. You should bring out a paper and pen, or spreadsheet and make notes while you read this article! Make plus and minus (or remove tours/tour companies) according to your answers to these questions.
This is a question that are quite important to some and cuts the field of tour companies into half. Either you go with a large tour company or you go with a small one. There are pros and cons with both.
Getting anywhere closer? The questions above do only cut a few, specialized chunks out of the big portion of tours and maybe you have only ruled out, or highlighted, a few that are interesting to you so far. How do you go about and select from the subset of tours and tour companies you have left?
Let’s say you have decided about going in May, and preferably in late May, and that you are deciding about a few tour companies and a selection of their tours but have no idea which to choose.
You can start by looking at tour availability. Does the tour company even have tours on your preferred dates? Some sell out quickly (especially the tour in May). This may rule out some tours or an entire tour company that are on your short list.
Read the reviews of the tour companies on your shortlist and check out their website and social media channels (all of which are listed on their StormChasingUSA page). What kind of feeling do you get from the company and/or the tour guide after reading? Does it seem like they have the same attitude as you about chasing storms?
Does one tour company offer discounts on their tours, or a specific tour? This could perhaps help you decide about one tour over another. Some tour companies offer discounts for specific groups of people, such as veterans. All tour companies offer discounts if you share rooms with another tour guest.
Check out details about the tour company that may be important to you. These are questions you may have to email them and ask:
In the end, there is not THAT much of a difference between the tour companies in the storm chasing tour industry. Every tour company (at least of the ones I have tested, and very likely the other ones in this list) apply to similar safety standards, have tour guides experienced enough to find tornadoes, safe and comfortable vehicles, the technology needed to do forecasts, offer fun things to do on down days and are serious about their business. The difference is often in the details.
All things considered, the weather setup on your tour is likely to have the strongest impact of how much you will appreciated your experience. A good tour company can, however, turn a bad situation into a good one but you still will be disappointed. The opposite is also true, if you chase during a week with a perfect setup you will end up seeing tornadoes with every tour company! Every tour can score big or mess up on a given day – either out of bad luck or bad judgment in that particular situation. The only thing you should not accept is bad service or that the tour company is giving up and not trying their hardest to find the best storms during your tour.
You won’t know how the weather plays along until you chase and if the dates you selected were the best for that season. You will just have to play the odds and hope for the best. Good luck!
If you have a certain question that should fit into this checklist please write a comment. Also, if you are having a hard time choosing a tour please write a comment or an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can help you.