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5 Critical RV Bad Weather Tips (Based on Firsthand Experience)

| Updated Jan 15, 2024

RVers need to follow these RV bad weather tips when severe storms are in the forecast

Watching the weather and the RV lifestyle often go hand-in-hand. Inclement weather, especially wind, can produce conditions that make both driving and your campsite dangerous. 

Storms turn RVers into avid weather watchers. One storm sure turned us into one…

Our Experience with Hurricane-Force Winds

We were caught in what we thought was a tornado but turned out to be straight-line hurricane-force winds of over 75 miles an hour. I was driving my RV at the time, a Class B Roadtrek.

I had seen dark storm clouds approaching fast from the west as I was traveling I-75 in Ohio. So I pulled off the road into a Pilot service station. 

Then it hit. 

There was no warning for those winds.

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 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. Ever since I have paid hyper attention to the weather forecast. 

RV Bad Weather Tips That Could Save Your Life

sign that illustrates need to have RV Bad Weather Tips
Follow these RV Bad Weather Tips because you will encounter severe storms as part of your RV Lifestyle

There's been a lot of bad weather lately. Tornadoes, tropical storms, hail, and flash flooding.  So, I decided it's time to write about some helpful tips when caught in severe weather.

1. Have a Plan (In Advance)

Can you quickly pack up your RV if you need to leave your site in a hurry? We can, and the key to a fast pack-up is to have a plan. The method includes a list.  

With a hurricane, you may have a few days' notice and time to pack, but an incoming flash flood, wildfire, or storm may demand quick thinking and quick packing. A checklist will ease your anxiety.

The next time you pack up your RV, make a list of all the steps. Create a laminated card and keep it in a handy place that is easy to find—even when you are stressed.

2.  Create An Emergency List and Kit

As an RVer, you should have an emergency kit to sustain you and your family for 72 hours. Below, I have listed ideas for supplies to include in your kit and things to take to the RV to get ready for bad weather.

  • Get an emergency crank-up weather radio that will work without batteries. We have this one from Midland Radio. It has lots of bells and whistles like a flashlight, an ultrasonic dog whistle, NOAA weather scanning, and AM and FM radio.
  • Stock up on gas, propane, and water. It is essential to have gas or propane to run your RV generator. 
  • Ensure that you have enough clean water in your tank for each family member, your pets, and basic hygiene for 72 hours. (Keep reading for a second reason to fill your fresh water tank….)
  • Have fresh batteries on hand for all your flashlights.
  • Store enough non-perishable food to feed your family and pets for at least 72 hours. Freeze bottles of water to place in your RV fridge to keep perishable food cold for a few extra days.
  • Have supplies to build a fire, especially if you do not have a grill.
  • Charge your phone and laptops. Purchase a USB battery and also keep that charged.

3. Create a Go Bag

You may need to leave your campsite quickly. Have a To-Go Emergency Bag, aka a “go bag”, packed and easy to grab. 

Here are a few ideas to include in your personal bag:

  • Snacks and bottled water, including pet food
  • Copies of important family papers, including those for your pet, and medical records
  • Your laptop and phone, chargers and back-up batteries
  • A paper list of significant phone numbers and how to reach your emergency contact
  • 72 hours of any prescription drugs and hygiene items
  • An extra pair of glasses

As we said, be prepared to cover your basic needs for 72 hours as you wait for assistance to arrive. Or be ready to grab the To-Go Bag as you evacuate your campsite. 

4. Decide to Stay or Go

Listen to local officials, the news, and review your personal situation. Remember, your home is on wheels and can be transported to safety. If you decide to leave, follow your plan and your list.

But you may be faced with a situation that prevents you from leaving the area. 

Here are a few RV Bad Weather Tips to secure your campsite before the storm:

  • Fill your freshwater, gray and black tanks. Water is heavy, and you will add extra needed weight to your RV to help withstand wind
  • Remove, secure, or put away anything in your campsite that will blow away in a storm. Blowing debris is dangerous to you and to other campers.
  • Bring in all of your slides and point your vehicle and RV into the wind. 
  • Ask the camp manager or host for the location of the closest storm shelter to your site.

5. Prioritize Your Safety Over Your RV

Remember my story at the beginning when the person behind me left their vehicle to seek shelter inside the building?

They had the right idea.

If you do not feel safe in your RV and you have immediate access to a safer location, move to that location. Abandon your RV if you have to.

Your RV can be fixed and replaced… you're a lot harder to fix and you can't be replaced.

More Weather-Related Articles:

Connect with our RV Lifestyle Community!

Connect with us and fellow RVers on our RV Lifestyle travel blog, the RV Podcast, our RV Lifestyle YouTube channel, a daily email and a weekly RV Lifestyle Newsletter, and through very active social media groups like the RV Lifestyle Community.

We Are Huge Fans of Winter Camping!

5 Critical RV Bad Weather Tips (Based on Firsthand Experience) 1

Now we say that knowing many people are not. Indeed, you need to actually enjoy snow and cold. But we know there are thousands of RVers out there who just need a little coaxing and some tips to get out there and have fun in their RVs year-round.

So that’s why we wrote The Winter RV Camping Guide.

In this 36-page ebook – (NOT a Print book) we’ll walk you through what you need to do before you leave home to get your rig winter-ready, and we’ll cover what to do when setting up camp.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-01-07

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

9 Responses to “5 Critical RV Bad Weather Tips (Based on Firsthand Experience)”

July 13, 2022at11:21 am, Dangerous Weather While Camping: Staying Safe In Storms | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] Dangerous Weather while Camping Bonus: Read 3 Critical Bad Weather Tips for RVers […]


October 08, 2020at11:51 pm, Debra said:

I was appalled to hear someone in your video yell “get in the cars”! As a native Kansan, common knowledge says a car is the worst place to be in a tornado. An RV is no better! I’ve seen the aftermath of a tornado near me that took many lives. Be aware that flying debris and downed trees are killers. Find a tornado shelter (along the KS turnpike there are many), cooler in a store, or culvert and save your life.


October 06, 2020at9:47 pm, Mike said:

Thank you for posting this vital info. and those that added excellent additional info.
We have RV’d for 3 years and driven nationwide prior to that. Our beloved dog is secured in a soft crate that was fastened to seatbelts.
I learned to avoid dangerous situations if possible. Rain is a major one. Get off the roadway preferably in a paved lot away from the road.
Shoulders of the road are poor choice to park on. Vehicles may NOT see you, hydroplane into you, or the shoulder may collapse due to poor subsoil conditions.
Are you familiar with subsoil in your camp area? Hardpan will not absorb heavy rain but run off. Mountainous areas have little soil on top and then hard rock below such as in the Rocky Mountain Natl Park. We were there in 2013 renting a cabin on a creek at the base of a 50 ft rock outcropping. We left on the 2nd morning of rain cutting our optional 3-4 day cabin stay short and driving eastward away from the rain which was forecast to continue.
People lost their lives, homes, trailers, mobile homes, and businesses. Towns were decimated and major roadways washed away. People were evacuated via military helicopters.
Fortunately I learned from other storms to consider leaving early while it’s an option.
Learn about creeks, lakes, rivers near your campgrounds. Realize that many campgrounds use land that homes may not be able to build on due to flood plains.
Will you be able to drive out or will the roads be closed due to flooding, or worse washed out?
Leaving early may be your best option.
Tragically people have awakened in the middle of the night by feeling their rig moving and floating away.
Thanks again to all the earlier comments.


October 06, 2020at9:19 pm, Mike said:

Thank you for posting this and those that added excellent info.
We have Rv’d for 3 years and traveled via SUV with our dog in a soft crate that was secured to seatbelts nationwide prior to that.
I learned to avoid dangerous situations if possible. Rian is a major one, Get off the roadway preferably in a paved lot away from the road. Shoulders of the road are bad. Vehicles may NOT see you, hydro plane into you, or the shoulder may collapse due to poor subsoil conditions.
Learn about creeks, lakes, rivers near your campgrounds. Realize that many campgrounds use land that homes may not be able to build on due to flood plains. Will you be able to drive out or will the roads be closed due to flooding, or worse washed out!
Tragically people have awakened in the middle of the night by feeling their rig moving and floating.
Thanks again to all the earlier comments.


August 24, 2020at12:18 am, Mary A Shafer said:

As a longtime SkyWarn Severe Weather Spotter, storm chaser and all-around weather freak, I was horrified last year when I first got on the road as a full time RVer and realized how few nomads really have no idea how vulnerable we all are to severe weather. So this year, I gave presentations on that very fact at the RTR and the WRTR, based on the severe weather primer contained on my website at I also run the Severe Weather for Nomads public group on Facebook. I hope this information helps your followers to avoid severe weather and what to do when they can’t. Thanks for all you do for all of us!


August 04, 2020at1:09 pm, Cindy Robison said:

Great article Mike! You made some excellent suggestions for RVers. I’ve seen recent videos from various channels that tell stories of severe weather threats RVers encountered and they didn’t know what to do! Many RVers, particularly newbies, are clearly unprepared. Thanks for sharing this valuable information!


August 04, 2020at11:58 am, robert gault said:

We were in Kickapoo State Park in central Texas last spring. After dinner the skies darkened and the rain fell so hard visibility was close to zero. The ranger came to our door in the darkness to announce there was a hail storm, baseball sized, just 3 miles north and headed our way. He announced and ran back to his truck. I said to myself “well what the hell do I do with his information.”. Packing up and trying to outrun it seemed folly. I identified a large oak tree about 50 yards ahead that would provide some buffer (but parking under it would block the roadway so we stayed put while keeping watch). I unhooked and we got into ready mode. The rain continued but no hail arrived so we dodged that bullet. It made for a very frightening wait. After a week of crazy weather, 8 hour thunder lightning storms in Seminole Canyon, a tornado alert the next day, a further week of lightning we decided to leave the great state of Texas and return to the relative safety of New Mexico. As my wife said….”I want to go somewhere where the weather is not trying to kill us”.


August 04, 2020at8:12 am, Noah Nason said:

Excellent Article on weather preparedness.


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