Oklahoma's most famous ambassador, Will Rogers, wouldn't recognize today's Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma River near downtown is framed by Bricktown (above), a haven for locals and tourists seeking the finest cuisine and entertainment. Monuments to college football housing legendary programs rise toward the sky in the suburbs. And the airport bearing the name of the state's internationally renowned cowboy is a study in sleek architecture and transportational efficiency.
But OKC, for all its bejeweled modernity, is still the portal to Tornado Alley, as it was in the days of Will Rogers and John Steinbeck. And for storm chasers like us, that is indeed heaven. And while we won't actually be spending much time in Oklahoma's capital city, OKC is, in many ways, emblematic of the F5! experience: Despite its location in the heart of the most tempestuous prairie on the planet, creature comforts abound.
Our daily ritual always begins with the morning forecast. Our onboard meteorologists will look at the current conditions across the central plains and then project where the best chance for tornadoes will be later that day. F5! feels the key ingredient to tornado development is upper-level support, or super-fast winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere. After a complete analysis, that day’s “Target City” is announced -- sometimes hundreds of miles distant.
Gregg Potter, the founder of F5!, has always believed the only way to experience storms and traveling across the Great Plains is in small groups. Back in 1999 when we started, limited clients and heavy Suburbans made for the safest experience. Little has changed 24 years later. We spare no expense to encase our chasers in top-of-the-line SUVs equipped with cutting edge tornado technology and driven by professionals with decades of experience in Tornado Alley -- all with plenty of elbow room.
After a long day of pursuing funnel clouds -- sometimes crossing multiple state lines -- a swim, a hearty meal and an inviting room will indeed feel like heaven.
And while we can't promise you the Ritz Carlton in Bartlesville, Okla., Emporia, Kan., or Arkadelphia, Ark. (or wherever the winds might lead us), you might be surprised at the level of comfort we can track down in the small Plains communities where tornadoes roam. After all, these towns are our branch offices.
While we've always shared meals on the road as we decompress after a long day of pursuit, nobody ever looked forward to deciphering the check. No more. F5! Tours are now all-inclusive, with food as part of the package in 2023! That's one less thing to worry about as you chase lifetime memories (and some gnarly cloud formations) in our week together. You might say that stress is the only thing we want to take off your plate.
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