COLUMBIA, 10/1/10 (Beat Byte) -- So-called "Tornado Tourists" seeking "a unique and unconventional opportunity to enjoy nature’s power and beauty," are traveling in increasing numbers to the midwest's Tornado Alley, University of Missouri, Columbia researchers Sonja Stanis and Carla Barbieri discovered in a survey.
Half of Tornado Tourists live in North America, 11% came from Australia, and more than one-third arrived from Europe, the two School of Natural Resources associate professors found.
Paired with tour-guiding meteorologists and trained storm chasers, tourists get to see the 1996 movie Twister come to life for up to two weeks -- and $5,000, which doesn't include room and board.
Most amateur storm chasers were happy enough with their tours to recommend them to friends, Stanis and Barbieri report. One third of tourists saw a real tornado; half spotted funnel clouds; and over 95 percent reported "seeing a significant atmospheric event."
"Although tornado tourism is a small niche market, it continues to grow," said Stanis, who reported the results with Barbieri at the 2010 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium in Bolton Landing, New York. "Storm-chasing tours continue to develop as a part of the Midwest’s tourism scene, with tours filling up as much as a year in advance."