Two vans of a storm-chasing tour company were hit by a smaller satellite tornado of the twister that hit the Lawrence area on Tuesday.
Silver Lining Tours said in a Facebook post that its vans were rolled by the storm and a few minor injuries were reported. Two other vans were not affected.
“While chasing the Lawrence, KS tornadic supercell, we were hit with a rain wrapped satellite tornado 2 miles southeast of the parent circulation,” the tour company said. “Two vans were rolled resulting in a few minor injuries. If you understand severe weather you will know these satellite tornadoes can not be predicted.”
“We still do consider ourselves careful chasers as our safety record proves that,” the company said. “Let this serve to ALL chasers as a reminder that it CAN happen to you. STAY SAFE!!!”
The National Weather Service said that an EF-4 tornado with estimated wind speeds of up to 170 mph and a max width of 1 mile touched down in Douglas County at around 6 p.m. Tuesday. The twister stayed on the ground for more than 30 miles and traveled into Leavenworth County.
The tornado caused widespread damage and injured at least 18 people, the Kansas City Star reported.
Tornado tourism is not new. The Wichita Eagle has previously reported that tourists will pay thousands of dollars to chase tornadoes on tours that can last about a week. Participants are typically required to sign waivers absolving the companies of blame should they not see a tornado or should they be injured by a tornado or other severe weather.
On its website, Silver Lining Tours advertises 11 storm-chasing tours with “passionate, experienced storm chasers and meteorologists offering you the atmospheric adventure of a lifetime.” The tours range from $1,500 to nearly $3,900.