Hey everyone! We have been slammed with running tours, so I am just now catching up on our chase accounts and sharing our tour experiences!
I believe as a tour operator this is the hardest chase account to write. Tour 2 was not so much a storm chasing tour but more so a sightseeing tour. Mother nature sent an unusual strong cold front into the Gulf of Mexico wiping out all available moisture TWICE, during tour 2. We were only able to chase one day for the entire 7 day period. The one chase day only provided sights of severe storms being undercut by a crashing cold front.
I think most operators would probably skip writing anything about a tour where mother nature didn't cooperate but I believe anybody who looks into storm chasing tours knows this is a risk they take when they book. I think this also provides a good opportunity to show everyone what we do during times of "severe clear" weather. We don't just sit around, we explore, create adventure and have a ton of fun!
During tour 2 we stayed in the states of Texas and Oklahoma. Here are the things we did during the 7 day period.
Day 1 - National Weather Center in Norman, OK. We explored the building and watched several interactive lessons on severe weather and tornadoes! Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. Took many photographs of the amazing landscape and diverse wildlife, did some short hiking trails and went to the top of Mount Scott in Lawton, Oklahoma! We had lunch at the famous Burgess Grill in Lawton! Their burgers are soooooo good!
Day 2 - We got into position for a potential chase day in the Texas Panhandle. While waiting for storms to fire we had a picnic at the Palo Duro Canyon. We had watermelon and sandwiches! It was beautiful to look over the canyon while enjoying our lunch. After lunch we staged for a towering cumulus field but moisture just wasn't deep enough for storms to fire. Once this was noted and I knew the day was a bust we headed back towards the Dallas area.
Day 3 - Chase day! The only chase of the tour, the set up wasn't great since there was a very fast moving cold front surging into the warm unstable air. We were sitting near Jackson, TX which is very deep in the big piney woods, visibility was poor due to all the tall trees and hills. A storm finally started to organize and we got on it. This storm was producing hail up to the size of baseballs! We stayed out of them but some chasers were not so fortunate. We were on the storms for a bit and stopped when safe and had a clear view when fields allowed for a peek. The cold front finally caught up to the storm and undercut it, shortly after the storm was dead. Since we were a short drive from the Texas coast I thought it would be fun to visit the beach for a couple days! The guests were so excited about that! I knew the rest of the tour was severe clear ( no storms to chase ) so I made a special arrangement to get rooms at a nice hotel right on the beach, complete with balconies looking over the ocean!
Day 4 - Everyone was very pleased with their rooms and views, we rested up and explored Galveston Island. We talked about the different things we can do and we all decided to take the ferry to Bolivar Peninsula and look for Alligators at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge! The Alligators were out! We saw somewhere around 10-12 gators and some were large! So much fun! The local refuge volunteer had told us about an Audubon Society Rookery. There were literally over a thousand nesting birds and some with chicks! Danger was lurking just below several of the nests as alligators were waiting for the young chicks to fall out of their nests. It was an incredible sight to see!
After the Rookery we went to the beach and walked along the water and collected sea shells for one of the guests mothers. For dinner we ate like kings! Nicks in Galveston where we had chicken fried steak and Redfish Pontchartrain followed by an incredible warm chocolate melting cake. MMMmm!!! We stayed one more night in Galveston to enjoy the awesome hotel rooms and relaxation!
Day 5 - Waking up once more in Galveston we all wanted to visit many of the unique gift shops in the area then used the rest of the day as a travel day to head back towards Dallas / Fort Worth as we were traveling we watched the movie twister and we all knew all the lines to the movie! Not wanting the day to go by without any sort of activity we went to a minor league baseball game in Frisco, TX! We had hot dogs and enjoyed a great game! After the game there was a really impressive firework show!
Day 6 - We woke up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and decided to visit some cool spots in Oklahoma. We traveled to Pops in Arcadia, OK. A gas station and diner that has several hundred different types of sodas and flavors. Some quite odd, like hot wing flavored..LOL! I am not drinking that! But it could be a cool gag gift for a friend! Afterwards, we took the trip to Wakita, OK to visit the Twister museum where the guests learned about the movie and the impact it had on the town of Wakita. We purchased some cool T-shirts and other items and headed back to OKC for the night.
Day 7 - The final day of the tour. We stayed around OKC to cut down on the amount of travel in the van. We visited the OKC Zoo. That was a four hour long trip! We had no idea it was so huge! They have a very impressive amount of animals and exhibits. After the zoo we went to lunch and then had some fun in the batting cages, seeing who could hit the most balls, followed by some put put golf. The day was coming to a close and we hung out in the hotel, watching movies and eating pizza. A nice ending to a week of solid fun!
Even though we didn't get much chasing in we strive for our guests to have the best time possible at all times. I think this was an important post to write. Sure, guests were disappointed
in mother nature, but they know we cannot control it, but we can control the quality of vacation they have. These times are the true tests of a tour operator who runs storm chasing tours when there are no storms. Everyone was very pleased with their trip despite the lack of severe weather. It was an honor to have them as our guests and we look forward to seeing them again!
Here are some photos of our adventures in the southern plains!