Tornado Tourists

Category F5 tornado (upgraded from initial est...Image via Wikipedia
Now that would be an interesting and fun vacation!

Amplify’d from munews.missouri.edu
COLUMBIA, Mo. ­­­– Instead of heading to the coast for vacation, people are traveling to Tornado Alley. The number of people registering to get a closer look at tornadoes is growing as vacationers trade in their beach towels for a ride with storm chasers.  Labeled “Tornado Tourists” by a University of Missouri research team, these travelers are searching for an experience beyond just thrills.
Carla Barbieri and Sonja Wilhelm Stanis, assistant professors in the School of Natural Resources Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, found that most of these travelers aren’t just looking for risk; rather, they are seeking a unique and unconventional opportunity to enjoy and learn about nature’s power and beauty.
“With the help of movies like Twister, storm-chasing has become an international phenomenon,” Barbieri said. “While more than half of the surveyed travelers lived in North America, 11 percent came from Australia and nearly a third traveled from Europe to get a close encounter with a tornado.”
Handling three to 10 tours per season, experienced meteorologists and trained storm chasers are serving as tour guides using sophisticated equipment to track the severe weather on the road. Typically costing between $3,000 and $5,000, not including food and hotels, the tours last one to two weeks as tour guides drive among tornado watch areas in a van.
The study found that most of the amateur storm chasers were happy with their experiences. One-third of the tourists experienced a tornado, while 50 percent spotted funnel clouds and more than 95 percent reported seeing a significant atmospheric event. Most respondents were so satisfied, they said they would take another tour and recommended tornado chasing to their friends.
“Tornado tourists were found to be primarily middle-aged, single, highly educated and wealthy,” Babieri said.
Read more at munews.missouri.edu
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