Mitch Tour: Mini Tour A - High Plains Tornado Tour Year:
The tour was mostly very good. We were put in very good positions to observe storms for all the chase days, even on one day where it was uncertain if any storms would even form. Not once did I feel like I was in danger. I also learned a good deal of information about storm structure, and reading and interpreting radar, analysis maps, and forecast models. There was an adequate amount of stops for food and the bathroom, they tried their hardest to cater to our needs. Nightly accommodations were much better than I expected, we stayed in low-end but reliable hotel/motel chains. And I loved the guests in the vans. They were all as eager to chase as I was, and I'm a pretty big severe weather geek myself. My only problem - although it's a very small one - was that I felt on down days they catered more to the photographers on the tour than guests with only a smartphone. Wildlife and abandoned houses are nice at first, but a non-photographer gets bored with them after awhile. Near the end of the second down day, half of us just wanted to get to the hotel already, but they kept stopping for the photographers to take pictures of everything. But that was a very minor inconvenience, I really enjoyed the tour and I'll probably chase with Tempest again in the future.
Tour guide review
Bill Reid was our guide and he was great. On our first chase day I found out just how knowledgeable he was, when he drove us to an area full of cumulus clouds and pointed out where a storm would form. Sure enough, it became a supercell which we tracked for over 4 hours. On our other two chase days, supercells were hard to find but he took us to the most photogenic storms I've ever seen. They had tons of lightning with them and some gorgeous sunsets as backdrops. For one of the chases, he took us on winding back roads that probably less than 10 people travel on per day, yet somehow managed to put us in a perfect spot to view the storms. It's quite a testament to how familiar he is with the road networks throughout the plains. I also loved how he would crack jokes no matter what the situation was, whether it was during the morning briefing or the chase itself. And he always seemed to pick out the best hotels and restaurants.
The vans were fine, no complaints here. One was a Chevy and the other was a Ford. Not much difference, if any, between the two vans. There is a CB radio in both of them for communication between Bill and the drivers. There's also a screen on the back of the driver's seat which usually shows the radar, unless Bill is looking at the analysis maps or models. Wifi is available everywhere there's a cell signal, but I found the data on my phone to be faster. Seats are fairly comfortable, about what you'd expect. There are seat belt cushions to prevent them from sinking into your neck, which I thought was a nice touch. Overall, the vans were good enough that I didn't mind spending >90% of my days in them. Comment on this review