Witnessing nature's drama up close is not for the faint of heart. Luckily (or unluckily) for North Americans, the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean offer just the sort of terrible weather and active volcanoes that make for heart-pounding vacations. And if you're looking to go farther afield, you'll have even more thrilling options around the world.
These trips aren't for everyone. If your idea of risk-taking is switching to 40 SPF sunscreen after the 60 runs out, then avert your eyes now. But if crashing, roaring, flashing nature is up your alley, these destinations have dream vacation written all over them.
Most people run away from tornadoes, but a few thrill-seeking souls search them out. Storm chasing tour companies dot the Tornado Belt of the midwestern United States, and offer the curious and the brave a controlled way to see big storms up close in spring and summer.
Tornadoes are the big draw, but they're not the only weather to behold. Todd Thorn, owner of Storm Chasing Adventure Tours, says that in a typical week, groups can see huge thunderstorms, hail, lightning, and funnels. Tornadoes are less common, but are still sighted every few weeks. How dangerous is it? Thorn says it's safer than being indoors. With experienced storm chasers, you're in a vehicle equipped with weather radar and GPS, so you always know which way a storm is headed.
People come for the storms, but get the added treat of discovering the other charms of the region. "People who come on the tours are amazed by the countryside, and love discovering the small towns and old buildings we pass through," says Thorn.
When you're scoping storm chasing tours, look for established companies with a good record, knowledgeable veteran guides, and happy customers.
More Storm Chasing
There are dozens of storm chasing tour companies, offering trips starting in Colorado, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and other states in Tornado Alley.