GREAT PLAINS, U.S. — Most people would run for the lives at the sight of the ruthless hail, a questionably green sky, and the “mothership” of clouds that look like they can suck someone up at any moment. But others pay thousands of dollars to charge toward the imminent threat for a front row seat of Mother Nature on her worst behavior.
And if they’re lucky, they’ll witness the cherry on top: a tornado.
“If a tornado was cheese, I wanna stick my cracker in it,” said weather enthusiast and tour guest Mike Worden. “It’s like a weird little fetish.”
Mike is apart of a niche community of thrill-seekers living out their darkest " Twister" fantasies on a storm-chasing tour. Storm tourists get driven around Tornado Alley — the stretch of the Great Plains that’s a breeding ground for the world’s most violent tornadoes — in radar-equipped vans along with veteran storm chasing experts in search of the perfect storm.
That's the pitch that Tempest Tours makes to prospective guests considering buying a seat on one of their week-long storm chasing road trips. Offered during peak tornado season from late April to July, the tours what most would consider extremely shitty vacation weather.
And with severe weather, comes a severe price. Tempest Tours guests will pay up to $3,500 to see a dark cloud with a bright promise.
VICE News went along for the ride to understand why people would drop thousands of dollars to look at weather and maybe, just maybe, get a look at a twister.
This segment originally aired July 3, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.