Checklist to choose the right storm chasing tour (company) for your needs

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.

Are you able to take vacation and go anytime between April and July or are you limited into going during a certain set of weeks?

  • Yes, pretty much“: Great, you can choose from any tour then.
  • I am most likely just getting off work between these dates“: Use the search functionality on the front page and see which tours there are during the dates that work for you.Write them down or keep the window with the search results open in another tab.


Are you on a specific, or tight, budget?


Do you expect to go on a normal, scheduled group tour or do you have very specific needs on when to go, for how long etc?

  • I don’t know. What is there to choose from? I guess a normal tour?!” or “I am looking for a normal tour” – If this is something you haven’t thought about or if you already know you want to go on a normal tour then just skip this section and move on to the next question.
  • I would actually prefer just to go for a day or maybe two” – There are a few tour companies that offer one-day tours or on-call tours in which you go out chasing on a day that looks favorable for severe weather. Check out this list of one-day tours
  • I would like to fit this tour into my tight schedule / I am writing an article about storm chasing / drive my own car / only hire a tour guide etc” – You should definitely look into “Private tours” that can be customized for your needs. 

Do you mind going with a large group of tour guests (10+) or is it important that the group is small?

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. 

  • I don’t mind and don’t really care. Other things are more important to me.“: Great, you can choose from whichever tour company.
  • I really don’t want to be a part of a large tour or with more than one vehicle!“: Although the “large” tour companies do run tours with only vehicle you may cross out Silver Lining Tours, Extreme Tornado Tours, Cloud 9 Tours, COD Storm chasing and Tempest Tours from your shortlist as they mostly run 2+ vehicles, at least during peak season. Many of them do however run one van on occasion so double check with the tour company. All other tour companies run at most one vehicle per tour which means tour groups of 4-7 people.

Is your main goal to come home from the trip and “have seen a tornado”? 

  • Yes, absolutely! This is pretty much my one and only goal!“: First of all, you should know that there are no guarantees about seeing a tornado on any tour. Having said that you should pick a tour with the highest probabilities of seeing tornadoes, which is likely to be May. You should also try to book the longest tour you can find that match your budget.
  • “Well, I would love to see one but I mainly want to see severe storms”: Any tour would work for you then. All tours between April and July offer good chances to see tornadoes.
  • In fact, quite the opposite! I am only into seeing/photographing storm structure and lightning and would rather stay away from tornadoes“: You should probably look into Monsoon chasing in August. Chasing in July also means more storm structure and lightning chasing over tornado chasing.

Is storm photography the highest priority for your trip?

  • “Yes, yes! Very much so!”: In this case you should look into Photography Tours. These are tours that focus specifically on Photography. These tours are usually later in the season.
  • Not the highest priority, but a big reason for going storm chasing is to bring home some great photos (and I am planning on bringing my expensive camera and lenses)“: You will probably be fine on any tour but you should probably look into chasing later in the season (June/July) when you are more likely to chase the Northern Plains and more slow-moving photogenic storms compared to earlier in the spring.
  • “Not really, but I’d love to take some pictures”: Most tour guests wants to document the storms and tornadoes. Some by their smartphone camera and some by better cameras and you almost always have a good amount of time to do so during a tour. Any tour would work for you.

Do you want to go on a tour as a way of being able to chase for yourself one day or to really learn about storms and forecasting?

  • Yes, this is pretty much my plan“: You should look into Lecture/Learning Tours and College of du Page’s storm chasing tours.
  • Not really, but I am quite curious to learn more“: All tour companies are very helpful in trying to teach you about storms but some focus more than others on teaching you forecasting as a part of their regular tours, with extended morning briefings – such as Tempest Tours. Depending on how curious you are to learn you could still consider the lecture tours above – or remove them from your shortlist!
  • Not at all. Frankly, I think I would be bored by long forecasting sessions. I just want to see storms!“: If you just want to be brought along to see storms there is no real need to be involved in the forecasting process. Most tour companies only have a quick briefing by the vans or in the lobby in the morning about the general setup of the day and where you need to go. You should be fine with whichever tour but you should probably NOT pick COD Storm Chasing tours.  

Do you have any preferences in terms of where to chase or which city the tour starts from?

  • “No (should I?)” – Most don’t care where they chase. The storms are the most important part and the landscapes, states and scenery is just an added bonus. You can choose from whichever tour.
  • I have always wanted to see this or that part of the country” – There is never any guarantees in which states you will eventually chase in but if you want to chase in a certain part of the country you can indirectly do so by choosing the dates in which you chase. Read more about where to chase in this article.
  • Yes, I would love to fly into Denver (or any other city) so I can visit my friends there / see that city before the tour“: You should look into our list of Departure cities  and see which tours are based out of the city you want to fly in to.

How to choose from the shortlist you have now

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.

Things you want to research or email and ask the tour companies

Check out details about the tour company that may be important to you. These are questions you may have to email them and ask:

  • What kind of vehicle are they driving? Is it comfortable? Is it different compared to the other tours in your shortlist? This information is available on
  • What kind of insurance does the tour company have? How would this affect you in case of an accident? This is something you need to ask the tour company.
  • Who will be the tour guide on the tours you are considering? How long has he been chasing and/or been a tour guide? This information is sometimes available on and sometimes on the tour company website. It may not be explicitly detailed who’s the tour guide on a certain tour unless the tour company has the same tour guide on every tour. Write and ask! 
  • How close to tornadoes do they get? This is a very common question but do not expect to get a specific response but more something like: “Close enough to see it properly”. Still, a question like this can give you an idea about how “extreme” the tour company is and you can map this to your preference – whether it is more towards the safety side or the extreme side.

In the end – you are likely to be fine with your choice

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 ( and I can help you.