TODAY   |  June 22, 2013

Tornado tour selling out despite deadly season

Twisters are both dangerous and mysterious, and now some storm chasers are offering tourists the opportunity to get up close and personal with mother nature. But is this risky business? TODAY’s Dylan Dreyer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> tornadoes, as we all know are dangerous, they are also mysterious. that's why they are mesmerizing to people. some are paying big money for a chance to see them with their own eyes. we have more on that. not what i would expect for a summer vacation.

>> not really but a lot of people are doing it. some storm chasers are offer this opportunity to get up close and personal with nature. is it risky business ? they are heading to the storm.

>> it's an amazing experience.

>> it gets you pumped up.

>> reporter: the passengers inside come from far and wide.

>> i live in seattle. for me, this is an opportunity this isn't otherwise.

>> reporter: they have each paid anywhere from $2600 to $3500 to chase storms for the week in hopes to get a glimpse of mother nature . this man traveled from canada with his brother mark to experience their first chase together.

>> it's a select group of people that are excited about violent weather. i'm one of those people.

>> reporter: this retiree is on his fifth tour. he's yet to see a twister touch down.

>> curiosity leads me to it. i have never seen a tornado.

>> at the help is david holder, co-owner of extreme tornado tours.

>> we are very experienced. we have been doing it for a long time. we are never going to put our guests in danger.

>> reporter: tornado tourism isn't new. in the wake of last month's storm that claimed 48 lives, including three professional storm chasers , research scientist john allen says tourism can be a risky business .

>> there are safe ways and unsafe ways. i cannot say they are all safe in the way they conduct themselves. with technology, all storms are not predictable. a storm will fall in an unexpected time or location.

>> reporter: it doesn't frighten the guests away. of the 17 tours scheduled, 15 are completely sold out.

>> i think about if we do have a tornado, are we safe, first of all. that's the first thing. it's not going to prevent me or any of us from doing this.

>> reporter: this group, four days in the journey crossed four states chasing and documenting everything from lightning to hail, gusty winds to heavy rain. they have yet to see a tornado, but each day they are hopeful one will safely twist toward them. so clearly, this is one of those things that is up for discussion.

>> it is. the tragedy we saw recently with professional storm chasers . you know, storm chasing is dangerous. it's dangerous for the professionals and especially for people who want to go out for the thrill of it. storm chasers do it to keep the public safe. now the public is going into the path of the storms. but i can totally understand why they want to do it. i'm a meteorologist because i fell in love with weather. i don't think it's safe for everyone to get involved.

>> going back to you can't help but think of what just happened.

>> exactly.

>> insensitive in some ways to their family.

>> i think the insensitive part is not only to the storm chasers who are trying to get the public out of the way, but the families so devastated by the tornadoes. i understand the draw for it. sky diving has risks, too.

>> interesting one to think about. thanks.