Rapid Rotation Storm Tours Blog

Daily tours are a go!

Well folks, it’s April. Springtime is here, most of the snow is gone, and severe weather is right on the doorstep. Next week is looking volatile on the latest model runs, and this is your first chance to ride along with us in pursuit of nature’s fury. If you live in or are willing to meet us in central or southern Oklahoma or northern Texas on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, and you want to experience storm chasing during potential severe weather outbreaks, then let us know! We take people on a first-come first-serve basis, and space is limited.

Here’s a look at the three severe weather days on the horizon. These three images show CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) in the southern Plains on Sunday, April 7, Monday, April 8, and Tuesday, April 9 respectively. At this time, Monday looks to be the most volatile of the three, although severe weather is certainly possible on the other two days as well (images courtesy TwisterData.com). We’ll quite possibly meet up and chase with Tornado Titans on one or more of these setups as well!


If you want to chase with us on one or more of these days and you’re available to be in these areas where we can meet you, please fill out the form below! It’s free to get on the notification list. If you decide to join us when we contact you, daily tours are $350 per person per day. It’s almost certain we’ll see tornadoes, and you can be there with us taking in this experience! You must give us valid contact info, or we can’t get in touch with you. And remember, space is limited. If we can’t take you this time, check our blog often and follow us on social media. We will also announce upcoming chases on Facebook and Twitter!

Just a few weeks to go!

It’s March. It’s meteorological spring. Snow is melting, the conventions are over, forecasts are out, and storm season is knocking on the door. I don’t know about you, but we are very busy getting prepared for it! So far this year we have chased the blizzard in northwest Oklahoma on February 25 and a linear mess of a storm setup in north Texas on March 9. Nothing too spectacular yet this year, but it’s technically not even spring for another week!

If you want to join us on the road this spring, now is the time to act! We’ve got weeklong and daily tours available that are the best value you’ll find anywhere. Come join us and experience something you’ll never forget. That guy you know at work is going to the beach? Who cares. You’ll be on the open road with us hunting down tornadoes. That’s much cooler!

It’s a little over four weeks until weeklong tours start, and daily tours are starting very soon. When we have daily spots available, we will call those on our interest list, and then post them here, on Facebook, and on Twitter. It’s free to get on the interest list. Just click “Storm Chasing Tours” on the menu above, choose “Day Tours,” and fill out the form.

To keep up with us this year, follow us on Twitter and on Facebook!

Storm Chase Tours Rank #7 on LonelyPlanet

In scouring the Internet for more extreme things to do in the off-season, I recently came across an article from LonelyPlanet.com. In case you’re wondering what LonelyPlanet is and if only lonely people go there, let me shed some light on the subject.

LonelyPlanet is all about helping travelers get started. From planning to what to do while you’re there, they have book after book (and of course the website) to help everyone get the most out of their journeys.

When I got to the article Adventure playground USA: the top 10 adrenalin rushes, I honestly didn’t expect Tornado Alley to be on there. I mean, it’s one thing to live there or chase there, but who really considers taking a storm tour? Oh wait, anyone that’s reading this blog right now.

The first several adventures were clearly of the extreme nature: ice climbing, rock climbing, canyoneering…the list goes on. But before kayaking, before sandboarding, came Storm Chase in Tornado Alley. I was shocked! There it was: my hobby, my love, for anyone to take a shot at (with a camera). And LonelyPlanet had great things to say about it.

“In spring winds spin wildly at up to 500km/h and Tornado Alley can experience more than 400 twisters. … You probably are in Kansas now, Dorothy.”

I’m trying to see just who at LonelyPlanet took a tour, and how many tornadoes the came across. Our goal? To beat that tour’s record day. But what really made my whole day about this article is that even though Tornado Alley came in at #7, we still beat out Manta Rays in Hawaii. Boom.

Want to learn more about LonelyPlanet? Check out www.lonelyplanet.com for more.

Making the Rounds: Chasercon & the Minnesota Storm Chasing Convention

Minnesota Storm Chasing Convention

In the past few weeks, Rapid Rotation Tours has been doing some traveling! On January 26, Chris McBee and Rachel Sager traveled to Big Lake, MN for the 5th annual Minnesota Storm Chasing Convention. Many chasers from all over the U.S. were there, including filmographer and TIV I & II creator Sean Casey, attending as the keynote speaker. It certainly was cold, but it was a great convention.

Sean Casey's TIV2 vehicle, made for driving into and photographing tornadoes.

Sean Casey during his keynote speech.

The trip home proved pretty arduous, as a large crippling winter storm was plaguing the Northern Plains. The snow in Minneapolis resulted in long airline delays for our flight back to Denver. Chris didn’t arrive back to Norman, OK until nearly 3 a.m.

A Southwest Airlines jet being de-iced at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport on January 27.


15th Annual Chasercon!

Cut to a few weeks later when Chris, Damon Bearden, and Rachel attended the 15th annual National Storm Chasers Convention (Chasercon) in Denver from February 15-17. It was a great time as always, storm chasers from around the world were in attendance. Some of the many speakers included Dr. Greg Forbes from The Weather Channel, Tim Samaras of Team TWISTEX and Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers, engineer and legendary chaser Tim Marshall, and Brandon Sullivan of Tornado Titans. We took a look back at the 2012 storm season, learned more about chasing safety, were informed and entertained by Tim Marshall’s Star Trek-themed presentation (the latest in a line of movie- and TV-themed hilarity), and listened to a very well-done overview of sounding data by Brandon Sullivan.

The culmination of Chasercon is always Video Night, held late on Saturday night when chasers can submit their best videos of the previous year for everyone to see. It’s the best time before storm season to view up-close high-quality tornado footage, and is looked forward to by everyone.

Rapid Rotation Tours was a part of Chasercon for the first time! We rented booth space in the vendor area among some of the most well-known companies in the storm chasing world (ChaserTV, KDR Media, Tornado Titans, Baron Services, and more). Below is a picture of Rapid Rotation tour guides Chris (right) and Damon (center). On the left is Kansas storm chaser Dillon Killoren, a friend of ours who volunteered to help us out with the booth. A big thanks to everyone who stopped by! We met some great people, got to talk with lots of severe weather enthusiasts, and of course got to socialize with other storm chasers! Can’t wait for next year!

Some pictures from Chasercon:

Our booth space in the vendor area.

Tim Marshall, as Spock's brother Spark, giving a very logical account of his 2012 season.

Tim Marshall, as Spock’s brother Spark, giving a very logical account of his 2012 season.

Brandon Sullivan of Tornado Titans, analyzing sounding data.

Brandon Sullivan of Tornado Titans, analyzing sounding data.

Dr. Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel, speaking about the 2012 severe weather season.

Dr. Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel, speaking about the 2012 severe weather season.

Our Upcoming Season

We don’t know about you, but we are getting excited for spring 2013! We have big plans for storm season, and we’d love for you to be a part of it as well. We plan to chase everything we can between April and June, and we hope to observe as many tornadoes as possible.

By now, you’ve probably heard that we’ve lowered our prices. $2,250 will now get you a full week on the highways of America with experienced storm chasers. If you’ve ever wanted to get out there in the elements and see Mother Nature at her angriest, this is your answer. You don’t have to worry about navigation and trip planning. Leave all that to us. Book your seats soon though!

If you still have some questions about our mission, check out this video just released today! In December, Rapid Rotation’s lead storm chaser Chris McBee met with Chris Sanner of Tornado Titans for an interview. They spoke about the upcoming storm season, and what our guests can expect on the tour.

Tornadoes around the world!

I think it’s safe to say that when most people think of tornadoes, they immediately think of the Great Plains of America. While the central U.S. is the undisputed tornado capital of the world, they can occur literally anywhere. There are LOTS of tornado reports every year from all over the planet. They are common in Australia, southern Asia, South America, and even Europe.

The map below, courtesy of the European Severe Weather Laboratory, shows all the tornado and funnel cloud reports in Europe between September 1 and December 6. 130 reports in all!

1 Sep – 6 Dec 2012


Admittedly, many of these reports are waterspouts that occasionally come onshore and cause damage to coastal communities and property. A great example of one of these picturesque waterspouts occurrred off the coast of Italy on December 2. Very impressive waterspout!


Other tornadic activity outside the U.S. in the past few weeks includes:

This tornado today near Auckland, New Zealand, that unfortunately took the lives of three people.

This tornado and hailstorm in Tasmania on November 9

This tornado in Japan on November 14

This tornado in Portugal on November 16. Impressive but dangerous vantage point for the cameraman as the tornado all but destroys this small soccer stadium. This person should have sought shelter instead of filming this. Way too close!

And that brings us to the amazing and violent tornado that struck Taranto, Italy on November 28. This is a small industrial city in the southeast part of the country, on the “boot heel.” This was a violent tornado in an urban setting, which is an awful combination. This first video clip is from a very close vantage point, and debris can clearly be seen being thrown about by this massive funnel. This is great footage of the structure of the tornado itself as well.

The following is another vantage point of the same massive tornado, and is easily the best tornado footage I have seen come out of Europe. If I was watching this video without any context and didn’t know any better, I would have guessed this to be from Kansas or Oklahoma. This footage, at least from the point of view of a storm chaser, is nothing short of amazing! Note the power flashes as well. This was quite a rare event.

This just goes to show that tornadoes are not a phenomenon limited only to North America. That being said, they occur with most frequency here in the central U.S., and we have the road network and terrain that is perfect for chasing! Come on a tour with us and we’ll show you the most extreme weather on the planet!

Recap: National Weather Festival 2012

We want to extend a big thank you to everyone who came by and visited us at the National Weather Festival on Saturday, November 3rd! Overall, the festival had a big turnout. It was great to see so many people excited about storm chasing and amped up about the idea of storm chasing tours. One booth visitor was so excited that she pointed from across the festival, exclaimed, “This is on my bucket list!! I have to do this!!” and ran over to our booth. Our tornado highlight footage from the past several seasons entranced folks as they walked by. You can see some of the same footage here!

Tour guides Chris McBee and Damon Bearden at our booth.

This is a great time to mention that we still have seats available on all ten of our 2013 tours! Whether you’d rather chase early-season storms in April, the height of the season in May in Oklahoma and Kansas, or the summer season in the North in June, we have you covered.

And as an additional thanks to all our NWF visitors, we’re extending our promotion through November 30th! How would you like to give someone the ultimate gift? A $500 deposit holds your seat, with the remaining $2100 due by March 15, 2013. This makes Rapid Rotation the best value you’ll find if storm chasing tours are in your plans. We hope you’ll add storm chasing to your bucket list and join us in 2013! Sign up today!

Visit Us Tomorrow at the National Weather Festival!

The National Weather Festival is this Saturday at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma from 9-1! Are you ready to meet and greet with storm chasers from all over the country? Rapid Rotation Tours will be there, so look for our booth!

Storm chasers Chris McBee and Damon Bearden will be there to answer questions, as will Rapid Rotation’s designer and photographer Rachel Sager.

If you RSVP to our online event and stop by the booth, we’ll have SWAG for you! You’ll also be able to sign up for a week-long storm tour from our booth so you’ll leave the NWF ready to chase Storm Season 2013. Plus, our promotional $200 off all tour dates ends after this weekend. This is the best time to sign up!

RSVP here and stop by for your free SWAG tomorrow!

Superstorm Sandy

LaGuardia flooding from Superstorm Sandy

How many lives were affected by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy? The answer is easy: just about everyone.

The NYSE closed yesterday and won’t reopen until tomorrow. Largely populated areas of the Mid Atlantic are deserted as locals wait for the flood waters in their neighborhoods to recede. LaGuardia and JFK airports are still closed, with flood waters reaching as high as some airline gates. Although many of us went to work today, our thoughts were still focused on the chaos and aftermath of the weather back east.

One thing remains true about natural disasters: it’s never about one person, it’s about everyone. We all come together in time of need, whether it’s rescue efforts or donations. Weather brings us all together like nothing else. What was your Sandy experience like?

I received many first-hand reports from back east last night. I have family and friends in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York. Everyone is okay, several are still without power. Flooding and wind were the main pests. The late night report from my brother in northern Delaware was: “Rainy and dark. And windy, we’re definitely getting pounded from the north.”

My mom lives in Pennsylvania, just northwest of Philadelphia. When I asked her how the weather was earlier Monday afternoon, she only had one word for me: “Lousy.”

Her power went out around 8pm Eastern Time. My brother’s never went out. Even family just south of Atlantic City never lost power. Back east it always seems like luck of the draw when severe weather strikes, you never know who will draw the short straw!

What matters now is the rebuild and recovery of the homes lost and lives torn apart. Although Sandy was no Katrina, she was still costly and cost lives. There is a reason I don’t quite feel ready to chase hurricanes: they’re just so BIG. You can get the perfect shot but you can’t get back out. Always leave chasing to the professionals, and if you do decide you want to chase, do it the right way! Catch a ride with an experienced chaser that’s willing to let you ride along. Or take a tour with a company like Rapid Rotation. The safest way to be a part of the action is to be a part of it with the right people.

But I have to ask—if given the chance, would you consider chasing a hurricane?

National Weather Festival 2012

Will we see you at the National Weather Festival? The fun goes from 9am-1pm on Saturday, November 3 at the National Weather Center in Norman, OK. Stop by the Rapid Rotation Tours booth and chat with the team! You can meet the tour guides, get information about tours, and ask us any questions you might have. Enjoy a day among like-minded weather enthusiasts!

Tour guide Chris McBee has been a part of the NWF in past years, and has entered the storm chaser car show on more than one occasion. He even won an award for best-looking chase vehicle at the 2009 festival!

For more information about the National Weather Festival, visit: http://www.norman.noaa.gov/events/nwf/

Chris McBee at the 2009 National Weather Festival