Today we’d like to introduce you to Martin Lisius.
Martin, “The Storm Whisperer,” began tracking storms in the mid-1980’s. He is a cinematographer, producer, director and founder of Prairie Pictures and StormStock, a stock footage brand specializing in weather. In addition, Martin founded and chairs the Texas Severe Storms Association (TESSA), a national non-profit dedicated to severe weather education and mitigation, and host to the National Storm Conference. Martin produced several television programs relating to severe weather including “Chasing the Wind” (1991) and “The Chasers of Tornado Alley” (1995). He co-produced “StormWatch” for the National Weather Service, which employs it nationwide as their official storm spotter training video. Martin worked as a technical advisor on the 1996 Warner Bros. blockbuster movie “Twister” and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show with the cast and crew. In 1998, he photographed the first-ever violent class tornado on 35 mm motion picture film at Spencer, South Dakota. In 1999, Martin teamed with Chevy Trucks to help create their “Storm Chaser” commercial for S-10 pickups. He recently produced a short film titled “Wakinyan,” selected to exhibit at several film festivals. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington. He recently authored “The Ultimate Severe Weather Safety Guide,” a book he wrote to mitigate the risks of potentially dangerous weather. Martin founded Tempest Tours in 2000 in order to provide storm chasing expeditions to the many people that were already asking him for them. “People wanted me to take them storm chasing but never had enough notice to get off work,” he said. “So, I created a tour schedule a year ahead and published on-line. That allowed them to plan ahead and book and pay for a tour, much like a cruise.”
Storm chasing for Martin does not include driving into tornadoes or screaming every time he sees a dark cloud. “It’s funny to me when our guests tell us how they are pleased we don’t do any of that and work hard to keep them safe. I wouldn’t do it any other way.”
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Our biggest challenge has been the negative image created by irresponsible “storm chasers.” We’ve had to debrief folks on that and convince them we have no connection with that other group.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Tempest Tours Storm Chasing Expeditions story. Tell us more about the business.
As the president, CEO and founder of Tempest Tours, my primary job is safety. I am the self-appointed risk manager. I make sure our operations are as safe as possible. I’m happy and blessed to work with a fantastic team. Yes, they are my friends, but more importantly, they are super smart, funny and real pros. Quality of service and product sets us apart. Everything is quality driven from safety to forecasting, educational value and customer service, when guests come to us they expect a unique, awesome experience. We understand that and give it to them.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Zero. Luck has nothing to do with our success. Desire, planning, commitment and positive thinking has made us what we are.
- $300 – $3400 per tour.
William T. Reid