Our driver, Blake Naftel, a 24-year-old redhead, has been interested in "extreme weather" since he was 5. He collects tornado facts like some people collect sports trivia. Kinney Adams is chauffeuring the BBC trio in its own minivan.
Because some other guests canceled, we have room to spread out in our van. Of the five of us, only two are really weather junkies. One is Rick Weber, 54, a businessman from Barrington Hills, Ill., who remembers watching storms approach over the rolling hills of northern Illinois when he was 10 or 11. (He has brought along his son, Scott, 21, who seems a good sport about this father-son bonding expedition.) The other is Jack Bobo, 50, a psychologist and jury consultant from Burlington, N.C. He's a more recent convert, a Weather Channel addict, back for a second tour with Tempest after seeing no tornadoes on a 10-day excursion the year before.
The other extreme is Steve Bartolotta, 47, an accountant who lives in Fairfax, Va. Bartolotta is here to see a tornado just as one might, once, climb Yosemite's Half Dome. This is his safari of the Great Plains, a part of the United States he's never seen and seems unlikely to visit again.
On Tuesday, we don't drive as much. Storms - at least supercells - don't develop until the afternoon, so we linger over lunch in Kadoka, S.D., a burg of 700 souls 90 miles east of Rapid City. Then we loiter outside the gates to a sheep pasture on the edge of town.
The Show almost comes to us. We find a nice piece of high ground on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, south of the Badlands, along South Dakota 44.
Where Monday's storm reached down, this one shoots upward tens of thousands of feet. Paralleling the earth is a line of clouds, called a beaver tail, that Adams speculates might extend 100 miles. That whole line feeds into a trunk that corkscrews upward and explodes outward into an anvil. The sky looks like an El Greco painting, all high contrast, swirling toward the heavens.
I'm not sure whether it's an illusion, but the bottom of the supercell seems to draw closer to the earth. Then a small segment of it descends farther and part of that farther still. It's impossible to tell whether it reaches the ground - we're about five miles away - but there's no mistaking the funnel shape. It's our first tornado.
Minutes later, another tornado unfurls, slender and rope-like. Video cameras roll. Cameras click. But no one has much to say beyond, "Would you look at that?"
It is only when the second one is slurped back up into the clouds that I realize just how small the tornadoes are compared with the supercell that creates them.
There are things on this Earth that make you feel small. Whales. Mountains. Canyons. They are a fraction of the size of this storm.
Everyone feels sated Wednesday. The only chance - and it's remote - to catch great storms that day is in far eastern Kansas. But for Thursday the storms look closer to where we already are.
We vote for an easy Wednesday, with a stop at Carhenge - the roadside folk-art installation of cars arranged like Stonehenge on the western Nebraska plains. I think Morganti is disappointed in our decision.
"I just don't want anybody seeing tornadoes on the Weather Channel and complaining that you didn't get your money's worth," he says.
Valid point. Chasing storms isn't cheap. My six-day tour cost about $1,800 per person, plus airfare and meals. That's on the low end for tornado tours. Tempest is one of several such tour companies, which sport names such as Western Winds, Violent Skies and Silver Lining. The most expensive 2006 tour I found was 14 days and $3,250 - enough to pay for a weeklong luxury Caribbean cruise.
Tempest Tours is staffed by weather addicts, and paying guests subsidize their habit.
"No one wants to see a great storm more than us - Kinney, Blake and me. And you're pretty much along for the ride," Morganti says over lunch Tuesday in Kadoka.
At the end of that day, the usually stony-faced Morganti was beaming: No guest on his tour would go home without seeing a tornado. His exhilaration also seemed deeply personal. Sharing this storm with us was almost coincidental. These guys would be out here anyway - and they would surely drive farther and sleep less without us along.
I confirm this suspicion when we cross paths with Bill Reid, another Tempest Tours director from California, who's ripping around the Plains on his own.
There's a competitive camaraderie among the chasers. They have such a niche passion that only fellow chasers can fully appreciate their photos, their stories, their time-lapse, cut-to-music videos. But at the same time, each wants to be the one with the best angle on the main event. Getting a great storm to yourself is a rarity these days.
But losing a good storm is the worst. A tense moment develops at Arby's late Thursday when Reid reports that he saw six tornadoes and starts showing off his digital photos. That same day we wound up in a ditch.