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October 1999 Issue
The Geographical Review
October 1999, Vol. 89 (4), pp. 533-553
BEYOND TWISTER: A GEOGRAPHY OF RECREATIONAL STORM CHASING ON THE SOUTHERN PLAINS
Keywords: recreation, Southern Plains, storm chasing.
Storm chasing is widely perceived as a new form of extreme sport or adventure travel. Each spring increasing numbers of tourists descend on the Southern Plains, the center of storm chasing in the United States, but little is known about their activities. According to longtime chasers, popular portrayals of storm pursuits are highly misleading, and growing participation in the sport is affecting storm chasing in the region. This study introduces the storm-chasing enterprise. Using route information and comments supplied by veteran chasers, I describe the spatial patterns of storm-chasing on the Southern Plains. Comparing the behavior and motivations of longtime enthusiasts with popular portrayals of the activity permits me to dispel many myths and to discuss the nature and future of this growing but little-understood recreational pursuit.