Storm chasing with Kevin Burton

Did you catch Kevin Burton, one of our expert travel consultants, in the Yorkshire Post recently sharing his passion?

As well as helping people create their dream holidays, he is of course a travel aficionado himself and is particularly intrigued by the wonderful world of storm chasing.

Here, he shares how a childhood interest in severe weather has seen him return to the USA year after year to chase thunderstorms, hurricanes and all that’s in between…

“Picture this: you’re surrounded by raging winds, hail the size of golf balls is falling from the sky and there’s an imminent threat of lightening strikes. You’re in the midst of a supercell thunderstorm and a 16-tornado outbreak in Dodge City, Kansas. This might sound like most people’s worst nightmare, but for me, it’s my happy place.

I was about 5 years old when I became fascinated with severe weather. While everyone else ran for cover, I’d be stood outside taking in every element of a thunderstorm, from the build up to the sounds, smells and aftermath. It was thrilling; I loved it.

Growing up I devoured documentaries and books about tornadoes, hurricanes and severe thunderstorms, I was so hungry to learn more about the phenomena behind adverse weather conditions. Through this, I came across ‘storm tourism’ – I couldn’t believe companies actually existed with the sole purpose of allowing people like me to travel thousands of miles for a once in a lifetime experience. It probably ignited my love for travel overall; visiting places near and far to experience things we just don’t get here in the UK.

You probably couldn’t convince many people to travel across the world to the USA, to then spend hours driving in a van with strangers chasing storms (in fact, you really couldn’t – I’ve tried!), but for me, it’s the perfect escape.

I was lucky enough to see a tornado during my first visit in 2014, along with a mother-ship cloud formation (named so as the storm structure looks like something from outer space!) and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve completed seven chases and the excitement and adrenaline rush is just the same as that first time.  If anything, as my knowledge has built, I’m probably more excited each time, knowing what to expect and the action that awaits. There just isn’t a feeling like it.

Part of the thrill is the chase itself. Typically, we’ll be setting off at 7am to arrive somewhere just as a storm is building at 2pm. Although the drives are long (we once drove 926 miles in one day), it’s a fantastic way of seeing rural America which I’d never visit otherwise. Of course, as powerful as mother nature is, she’s also very fickle, so there could be days where we’re expecting to see magnificent storms but nothing appears – but that’s all part of the fun.

The USA is known for the frequency and magnitude of its storms, hence its popularity with storm chasers, so the experts know how to look after us. But, as we know, weather can change with a flip of a coin and I’ve been caught in some precarious moments in the past.

The adrenaline rush is immense and it truly does grow every visit as the weather simply isn’t set in stone. I’ve got my fingers crossed I’ll be able to return next year and personally, I’m holding out for another epic Dodge City outbreak.”

Are you looking for a unique, once-in-a-lifetime break of your own? Drop our team a message here, we’d love to help make it happen!

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