On storm-chaser vacations, calm, sunny weather not welcome

Storm-chasing vacations
Brad Murie and his girlfriend Nicole, seen on a storm-chasing vacation run by Silver Lining Tours.

(CBS News) ABERDEEN, S.D - This holiday weekend is the start of the summer vacation season. When most people go away, they hope for good weather. But not everyone, as we learned "On the Road."

Weather-wise, they are America's worst nightmare -- deadly tornadoes. But now one man's hell is another man's holiday.

This week, 17 people from as far away as New Zealand came to Oklahoma City, loaded their suitcases into passenger vans, and set out on what they hope will be a truly "twisted" vacation.


"I've just got a passion for severe weather," says Paul Lyons, from Australia.

"It's just really kind of awe-inspiring," says Danny Goldstein from New Jersey.

Nick Travis, from Virginia sums it up: "You never know what's going to happen -- never."

Roger Hill runs Silver Lining Tours -- one of several tour companies that showed up on our radar that take tourists storm chasing.

Researchers at the University of Missouri studied this growing tourism sector and found these vacationers tend to be primarily single, wealthier than average -- at $2,400 a week you kind of have to be -- and highly educated. That's the part I question.

Fortunately, the people who run these tours know exactly where it's safe to stand. And it's not all about seeing tornadoes anyway.

"The cake is the storm and the tornado is the icing," Roger says. "And sometimes you get a lot of icing and sometimes you don't."

Our group has gotten pretty much all cake. Even though we drove a thousand miles the first day -- blew through five not-so-small states, and the only whirlwind was of our own making.

You've gotta really love weather to do this.

And most of these people do love it. With the notable exception of a Canadian on the trip named Nicole.

I knew Nicole didn't fit in the first night I saw her at orientation. Roger had just told us that when the chase is on, he wouldn't be stopping -- even to let you use the bathroom.

"That's just the way it works," Roger said.

"And everyone else is just, 'Oh, yea, note taken, I'm on board,'" Nicole recalled. "I'm thinking, 'What? Why would you do that?'"

But Brad disagrees, saying that it's "a once in a lifetime experience." Brad is Nicole's boyfriend. Obviously, this trip was his idea.

"It is pretty ironic that most people go on vacation to sit in the sun and we're going on vacation to drive away from it."

Again, you've gotta love weather -- and if you do, there's no better seat in the house. That's why about 60 percent of Roger's clients are repeat customers.

Of course, Nicole probably won't be one of them. She gets to pick the next vacation -- and has already vowed that the only umbrella will be in her pina colada.

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