Owner / Lead Guide
Owner / Lead Guide
Blake saw his first tornado looking out the bedroom window of his childhood home in Pennsylvania. While always intrigued by thunderstorms, it was tornado videos from 2007 and the media focus on the Greensburg EF-5 that turned this curiosity into something more. His first two forays into storm chasing were as a tour guest in 2009 and 2010. The following year, Blake made his first solo chases on the Plains, capturing several tornadoes on June 20th near Bradshaw, NE. His chasing and photography caught the eye of the late Andy Gabrielson and the two made plans to start their own tour company called Weather Adventures. When Andy was killed in 2012, Blake put their ideas on hold, and his future of chasing tornadoes looked uncertain.
Opportunity came in a chance to join Extreme Tornado Tours as a guide in May of 2012. After two successful years of chasing and honing his abilities, Blake knew the time was right to bring back the Weather Adventures dream. Having chased as both a guest and a guide gives Blake helpful insight into what is required to provide a superior tour experience. His ability to break down complex meteorological processes into easy-to-understand concepts is a valuable asset for guests hoping to understand storm structure and dynamics, as well as forecasting severe weather.
An avid traveler, Blake has visited 42 US states and 10 foreign countries, and his knowledge of the Plains is a point of pride. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Photography from Albright College in 2002. With his artistic background and love of travel and exploration, Blake found the challenge of correctly predicting and then capturing storms on camera irresistible. He has appeared on episodes of Storm Stories and Weather Caught on Camera. 2016 was a great success for Weather Adventures, with 30 tornadoes counted for the season, including Blake’s 100th overall.
Chase Guide / Driver
Drew has been mesmerized by Mother Nature since he was a young boy in Indiana, watching storms through his family’s basement window. He took his inaugural storm chasing vacation in 2009, when he saw his first tornado near Tonkawa, OK. Every spring since then, Drew has returned to witness the mind-bending spectacle of severe weather on the Plains. In 2011, his trip took place in the aftermath of the Super Outbreak. Witnessing the destruction left behind in places like Tuscaloosa, AL and talking with survivors gave him new appreciation for the power of nature and a desire to raise awareness about severe storms.
In 30 days of driving with Weather Adventures, he has seen 16 tornadoes. His favorite day from last season came on May 24th. A visit to the Twistex memorial in the morning was followed by numerous tornadoes between Minneola and Dodge City, KS including triplets at one point! The twisters were followed up with some great storm structure and lighting, topped off with a brilliant mammatus display at sunset. In his words, “you couldn’t ask for anything more. That day was perfection.”
Drew is a graduate of Marquette University and currently lives outside of Milwaukee, WI. He is a proud father, reflected in the way he encourages our guests to explore the amazing world around us. Always eager to learn more about storms and the states we travel, Drew loves sharing his knowledge with tour guests, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Keen to add to the 50,000+ miles he’s traveled in pursuit of tornadoes and severe storms, Drew will be a guide in 2017 and has been a great addition to the Weather Adventures team.
Chase Guide / Driver
When storms rolled in to his hometown of Griffith, a suburb of Chicago in northwestern Indiana, Chris could be found in the front yard watching the spectacle of nature’s fury pass overhead. Chris’s dad often joined for the show and they shared this bond of weather watching. In 2016, Chris booked a private tour with Weather Adventures as a 60th birthday gift for his dad, and they were rewarded with their first ever tornadoes near Eva, Oklahoma. Chris spent most of the tour in the front seat, acting as navigator and learning on the go. The power of the storm and the adrenaline rush of the hands-on chasing experience had him hooked.
Since then, Chris has spent a lot of his free time immersed in learning to forecast severe weather. Realizing he had a thirst for knowledge but only a cursory understanding of the atmosphere, he enrolled in Penn State’s online meteorology forecasting certificate program. He will be wrapping up mesoscale forecasting in the spring of 2018 before joining Blake as a guide.
When Chris is not obsessively watching the weather, you’ll find him at the bowling alley or on a baseball field depending on the season. He has 7 career perfect games in bowling, but none so far in baseball. He makes his home in Madison, Wisconsin where he works in Healthcare IT.
Chase Guide / Driver
Matt has been obsessed with the weather since experiencing a two-day lightning storm at the age of 10 in Chico, CA. The nonstop forks cutting across the sky captured his imagination, so different than the fog drenched San Francisco climate he grew up in. A decade later, he was living in Oklahoma and his fascination with severe weather grew immensely. With the advent of the video age and growing popularity of storm videos, Matt dreamed of chasing on the plains and capturing his own images. In 2010, his dream was realized, and Matt captured his first tornado in Campo, CO. He has been hooked since!
Matt is a true artist, and the infusion of severe weather into his repertoire of landscape and night photography was natural. In his words, “the beauty of severe storms can be quite intense. My focus is bringing the viewer inside the photo frame to witness the incredible spectacle of Mother Nature combining the right ingredients to produce storms that stoke the imagination.”
Aside from Gallery work in San Francisco over the years, Matt has also worked with Yahoo! as a photographer and The Aperture Academy as an instructor in the field of photography. Matt currently balances family life with running his own photo workshops throughout the Western United States when he’s not storm chasing, teaching people the ins and outs of their cameras in some of the most interesting and diverse landscapes and cityscapes the country has to offer. In 2017 Matt will be back for his third season as a Weather Adventure guide, and is planning photography tours in Colorado and Utah with Blake in the future.