Weather watch: Bizarre trend of weather-related tourism is catching on fast

  • Sneha Mahale, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 16, 2014 16:38 IST

For most, the idea of a vacation entails blue skies, sunny beaches or cooler climes to escape the sweltering heat. But there are those who seek a little more than just the perfect weather. From trying to catch a glimpse of the season's first winter storm to chasing tornados, the bizarre trend of weather-related tourism is catching on fast.

While the most obvious reaction to watching a tornado make touchdown would be to seek shelter under the biggest rock, some people think differently. Every year, adrenaline junkies are known to chase storms in Tornado Alley, USA, with experts who claim on websites to "have the best results in finding severe storms and tornadoes" on six-day tours. Vijaya Karnik, a lawyer, has been on one of these tours. She says, "The technology they carry around is crazy. The mini-van we were in resembled a weather station. It is risky business, but something that my husband and I wanted to experience for ourselves after watching Twister (1996)."

Winter is coming
Game of Thrones's Ned Stark would be mighty pleased with the tourism ploy employed by Tofino, Canada. "Storm watching is more than a season; it's a thing to do, and a state of mind" is what it says on its official tourist website. November marks the start of the official winter storm watching season here, and trips to spots where the beach meets the forest are on offer. Suited in full rain gear, visitors can watch the giant surf roll in. "After 'a tour', chefs at your cabin whip up local delicacies while you warm up by the fireplace," says travel blogger Varun Shah, who visited Tofino with friends last year.

Aurora borealis lights up the sky over Fairbanks, Alaska (L), Death Valley, USA (R)

Feelin' hot hot hot
Famous for being one of the hottest places on earth and among the driest places in North America, Death Valley is a popular spot for 'heat tourists' - a name coined for visitors who sweat it out for a couple of snaps. Higher the temperature, greater is the value of the visit. The most popular tourist activities here include clicking a selfie with a thermometer in the background to record the temperature or checking if it is hot enough to fry an egg.

A tourist watches a storm in Tofino, Canada (L), Beachgoers hold an umbrella as it drizzles in Kochi, Kerala (C), A Texas resident takes photos during Hurricane Dolly in the US (R)

Rain Collector
Continuous downpour in Kerala marks the onset of the monsoon season in India. Till a couple of years ago, the village of Kava in Kerala was yet to be discovered by rain chasers. Today, tourists gather in hundreds to click pictures of dark rainclouds and experience regular downpour at what is thought to be as the "gateway of rains to Kerala". The locals believe that the monsoon clouds for the entire state originate from the tall peaks of the Western Ghats, which "guard" this particular village.

Into the storm
Geomagnetic storms are known to generate dazzling auroras over the northern latitudes- from the US to Sweden. Though it is not easy to predict when this phenomenon will take place, tourists are known to head to these areas to watch colours take over the skies. "We happened to be in the US when someone told us that due to some storm, we could spot auroras at a spot that was a two-hour drive away. It was spectacular - probably one of the most memorable experiences of my life," says Shruti Menon, a marketing executive.

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