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Monday, June 25, 2012

EXTREME CHASE TOURS Storm Chasing Serious Business

Below is an article featuring Extreme Chase Tours and a little of what we do.:

Real Words from the Real World: Storm Chasing is Serious Business

In an age when video and picture sharing is easier than ever, the fascination with violent weather is reaching a fever pitch. Films like Twister depict storm chasing as an activity for seasoned scientists trying to learn from severe weather and provide earlier warning systems, but it’s now a major tourist industry as well. Companies across Tornado Alley are taking tourists from around the world on storm chasing vacations, driving anywhere and everywhere to find the big storm systems and charging anywhere from $1,000 to $2,700 for a week-long tour.

Although tourists get the thrill of the chase, the tours are frustrating emergency crews that are trying to keep the public safe. In Kansas, Rush County Emergency Management Director Jim Fisher says storm chasing tours can clog up roadways and cause dangerous situations. In one instance, a county road was blocked by a tour van, with tourists arguing that they’d paid for the tour and had the right to set up tripods in the middle of the road.“We tried to run them off, but they have every legal right to be out there, even if they are in our way,” said Fisher.Of course, not all storm chasing tours are clogging up roadways. Lanny Dean of Extreme Chase Tours stays out of the way of emergency teams and also helps provide vital information about storms to emergency workers. That same night in Kansas, rather than snapping pictures in the middle of the county road, Dean provided key information to emergency teams 10 minutes before the tornado hit. In general, Dean tries to steer clear of the large groups of tourists.

Mike Umsheid, Dodge City Meteorologist, says the more veteran chasers provide real-time information rather than simply hoping for the thrill of a storm.“[Some tourists] will set their tripods up on the white line of a highway, or in the middle of a dirt road. The tour operators running these things are supposed to manage that. Some do a better job than others,” Umsheid said.While witnessing a tornado is exciting, it’s also not something to be taken lightly. When it comes to storm chasing, always keep in mind that nearby residents in the path of the storm are in very real danger, and it’s important to help emergency teams do their jobs and keep people safe.

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