Being in an RV in high winds can be very scary. I found out the hard way. I have a video to prove the point. And 10 tips for driving an RV in high winds.
People ask us all the time, what's the scariest thing that has happened to you while driving your RV.
In our nearly 10 years of RVing, We've been nearly run off the road by other drivers, had a tire blowout, been hit by roadside debris, driven in blizzards, and had a high voltage power line come down across the road just ahead of us.
Scary moments all.
Caught in my RV in high winds
But one of the scariest was the time I when I was caught in a sudden, violent windstorm.
It served as a great example of how fast the weather can change.
You don't want to be in an RV in high winds!
This incident happened very early in our RV Lifestyle, way back in 2012, on I-75 in Ohio.
The only warning I had was some dark clouds to the west, It looked like rain so I decided to get off at the next exit and fill up under a gas station roof so I wouldn't get wet at the pump.
I was in our RV, which at that time was a Roadtrek RS Adventurous, in a Pilot Travel Center just off the freeway near Findlay, Ohio when a fierce storm, first thought to be a tornado but what turned out to be straight-line winds, hit with full force.
Part of the station's roof was torn off. Part of it landed on my RV.
I whipped out my iPhone and recorded it all.
For about five minutes, I was trapped at the pump, blocked by a vehicle behind me, whose driver ran into the Pilot building for shelter.
I didn't want to move forward as that's where the flying debris was whipping the strongest.
Damage to my RV from the high winds was minor, all things considered.
But it made for some pretty scary moments.
The storm uprooted trees, flipped a half-dozen semi-tractor trucks on I-75, destroyed buildings, and knocked power out in the area.
The city of Findlay and adjacent Hancock County declared a state of emergency in the wake of the storm. The Toledo Blade said it packed hurricane-force winds.
Here's the video I took:
I'm very fortunate that I wasn't hurt or the damage to the RV wasn't worse.
I credit several of the Pilot employees that stood right out in the middle of the storm trying to keep the roof parts from doing more damage.
Manager Ken Rader said Pilot would take care of the repairs. which consisted of a couple of dents and scratches and a broken part of my side mirror.
And they did, reimbursing me promptly for the repairs.
The incident may have been many years ago now but it has had a profound impact on my awareness of the weather,
The fact is, that even though there was some damage by debris from the gas station, had I been on the interstate when the storm hit, those hurricane-force winds would have slammed broadside into the RV. I don't know if it would have knocked me off the road.
But a lot of vehicles that were out there that day were flipped or knocked over.
But I'm glad I didn't have to find that out, I think being on the road would have been worse for me than being at the gas station.
So my lesson from all this is when the skies really start to darken, get off the road, and try and find shelter.
And hope the winds don't take off a gas station's roof.
RV Driving Tips during high winds
We've driven our RV in high winds lots of times since that incident in Ohio. Here are five tips I can offer:
- Keep both hands on the wheel. The wind really does want to push you to the next lane. A firm, not too tight grip, lets you easily overcome that.
- Keep the speed low. I usually tool down the interstate a little over 70. When I am driving my RV in high winds, I keep it between 55 and 60 on the freeways. If I'm on a two-lane road, I'll make it between 45-55. That seems to be the sweet spots of speed for keeping it under maximum control when in high winds.
- Beware of sudden gusts – Wind gusts need to be anticipated, especially when moving from a protected area to an unprotected area, like overpasses, or when treelines along the wide of the road vanish, or when meeting large vehicles.
- Be very aware of traffic and the vehicles around you – High winds can blow any vehicle off course. Keep your distance from all other vehicles.
- Take breaks sooner than normal – When driving in windy conditions n freeways, we stop at about every other rest area. There's a lot of stress in driving while fighting the wheel. Spelling yourself for 10 to 15 minutes every hour or so really helps.
Those are my suggestions.
More RV driving tips during windy conditions
But before we end this article, let me share the advice from an RV fulltimer.
Here are some tips about driving an RV in high winds from Janet Arnold, a solo RVer who shared her windy driving experiences in an RV Lifestyle article a while back:
- If the wind is super strong and you are camping, stay put. There is nowhere that is so important to get to, that you cannot wait a day.
- If you are driving and find you are “white-knuckling it,” it might be time to pull over and stop. You might find found some great little towns and coffee houses using this technique.
- Slow down. When the winds are blowing if you slow down it will be easier to drive. If you are in your RV, you are on holiday so what's the hurry?
- Keep an eye on the horizon. If it looks like nasty weather, turn on the radio and catch the latest forecast.
- When camping, try to find a place that has a natural windbreak (trees, rocks). And don't park under a tree that has a lot of dead branches that could fall on your RV in high winds.
We hope these 10 tips and sharing the video and experience of the day I was caught in my RV in high winds in Ohio will help you as you travel.
Feel free to use the comments below to share your experiences.
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