How can I join a storm chase trip with the College of DuPage?

Simply fill out this form and check the box at the bottom to be placed on our storm chasing e-mail list. This mailing list will be used to send out announcements regarding our storm chasing program, including when and how to register.

What is the difference between the College of DuPage storm chasing program and a commercial storm chase tour group?

The major difference is we can offer you the same experience as a storm chasing tour group for a lot less money! A storm chasing tour company going out for a similar length of time will typically charge between $2500 and $3500. In addition, because we are educators and you are obtaining college credit, everyone participating on our trips can expect to learn about thunderstorms, tornadoes and storm chasing. Finally, we have been taking students out storm chasing since 1989, so we offer you more experience than any of the major storm chasing tour operators that we are aware of.

How many people go on each trip?

There are 14 spots for participants to go on each of our storm chases. A total of 18 people participate, including the instructor, an assistant, and two staff drivers.

What kind of travel arrangements do I need to make?

All participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements in getting to and from the College of DuPage. Once the storm chase begins, all travel arrangements are provided for by the college.

What can I do to improve my chances to chase with the College of DuPage?

We presently offer a total of 5 trips each year. The only way to improve your chances is to be as flexible in your travel plans as possible. You stand a better chance to go on a trip if you are able to sign up for any particular trip, particularly if you are signing up late in the process when some trips may already be filled.

When are the chase trips for next year, and how much will they be?

The actual dates for our chase trips are decided the prior year in August. You may check the the COD storm chasing homepage to see if next year's chase schedule and costs have been announced:

The cost of the storm chasing trips will vary depending on which storm chasing course you are enrolling in (please see the next FAQ for an explanation of the two storm chase courses we offer). In 2007, the trip cost for ESAS 1800 will be $880, and ESAS 2800 will be $700. These trip costs cover transportation and hotel expenses. In addition to the trip cost, each participant must pay for 3 credit hours of tuition, which in 2007 is $103 per credit hour. The tuition rate is the same for all participants, regardless of residency status.

Beyond the trip cost and tuition, each participant is responsible for their own food purchases. We advise that participants budget at least $25 a day for food. Souvenirs, film, and other incidentals are extra costs that a participant should also consider when budgeting their trip money.

What is the difference between the two storm chasing classes you offer?

There are two different sections that a participant may register for, depending on your past education and experience:

ESAS 1800 Introduction to Thunderstorm Lab: No prerequisite, other than instructor permission to register. First-time storm chasers, as well storm chase veterans who do not satisfy the prerequisites for ESAS 2800, can register for this course.

ESAS 2800 Thunderstorm Lab: There will be a maximum number of 7 ESAS 2800 participants allowed on each trip. In order to qualify for this course, a participant must satisfy each of the following requirements: (1) completion of ESAS 1115 Severe and Unusual Weather; (2) completion of one section of ESAS 1800; and (3) instructor permission to register. Basically, if you have taken the Severe and Unusual Weather course and have gone on at least one previous storm chase trip with us, you qualify for this section. There are more responsibilities and required leadership in group weather briefings for those registered in ESAS 2800. In addition to the mandatory class meeting for everyone on the evening before departure, ESAS 2800 students are also required to attend additional mandatory class meetings in April.

How will you decide who will chase with you next year?

The participants are chosen on a mostly first-come, first-served basis. In order to have your spot held for you, you will need to register with the school and pay a non-refundable trip deposit of $500 at the time of registration.

Where do you go on a storm chase?

In short, we will go wherever the weather dictates. We have chased as far south as Texas, as far north as the Canadian prairies, and from the Rocky Mountains back to the state of Illinois and maybe further east. In order to chase effectively, we must also consider the topography and the road network. So, we won't chase in the Ozarks, but most everywhere in the central U.S and Canada is possible. We never really know where we will be until a day or two before the storm chase.

What is a typical day like?

Please read the following short essay on storm chasing (PDF), which addresses this topic.

What are the safety risks?

Please read the following short essay on storm chasing (PDF), which addresses this topic.

What should I pack for the trip?

Please go the Materials section of this website and read the files under "Logistics (rules & more)" to learn what we recommend you pack for the storm chase.