Increasing numbers of Brits are flocking to Tornado Alley in the USA for storm-chasing holidays, according to a recent report by Sky News.
The report focused on a Colarado-based storm-chasing tour company which said that around 30 per cent of its customers were from the UK. The tours see clients spending days driving in a convoy of vans across the Great Plains states of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas in order to see first-hand the power of supercell thunderstorms and the tornadoes tearing through the countryside. Florida is also a hotspot for these giant storms and the tourists who follow them.
The tour operators use high-tech weather-monitoring equipment to track weather systems likely to produce the dramatic storms visitors pay thousands of dollars to see. Although there are risks associated with chasing down some of the most destructive weather phenomena on earth, storm-chasers see the potential thrill as being well worth the risk, as well as the cost of flights to the USA and the substantial tour costs.
"I think it's the moment when you get out of the van, just before a storm you can feel that tension in the air," commented British storm-chaser Gayle Dawes.
Once a storm has been located, the group parks up nearby to take photos of the dark clouds and swirling winds from a distance. Then, the convoy of vehicles for the "core punching" - the term storm chasers use for driving straight through the middle of the storm. As well as high winds and lashing rain, the vehicles are often bombarded with golf ball-sized hailstones, leaving large dents in the bodywork which only heighten the anticipation for the next batch of visitors.
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