3 Critical RV Bad Weather Tips

 3 Critical RV Bad Weather Tips

A nighttime, tornadic mezocyclone lightning storm shoots bolt of electricity to the ground and lights up the field and dirt road in Tornado Alley.

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

As I am writing this blog, tropical storm Isaias is heading for the East Coast.   RVers along the Eastern Coast of the United States are bracing and wondering what steps to take during impending bad weather.  Watching the weather and the RV lifestyle often go hand-in-hand.

We all need helpful RV Bad Weather Tips: Case Example

Weather, especially wind, can produce conditions that make both driving and your campsite dangerous. 

Storms turn RVers into avid weather watchers.

Let me start by showing you a video. This was me, 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. I whipped out my iPhone and got this video:

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 at 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. 

There’s been a lot of bad weather lately. Tornadoes, tropical storms, hail, and flash flooding.  

While reading posts yesterday in our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group, I came across a post by Natasha Alcegueire

She is a new full-time RVer and was parked on the coast of Florida over the weekend.  As she posted, Isaias was heading to Florida as a possible Category 1 hurricane.  This would be the first bad weather experience for Natasha as a full-time RVer. 

She had a lot of questions, including “Do I stay, or do I go?”  (You can click on the link to read all of the comments to Natasha’s post and advice from our FaceBook Group—or you may want to join the group too)

As you know, the RV community is always happy to provide advice.  As I scrolled through the post comments, I decided to write three important RV bad weather tips.

Jennifer and I are in a Class C RV, but the RV bad weather tips below fit any recreational vehicle’s needs. 

RV Bad Weather Tips #1:  Have a Plan

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 day’s 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.

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

RV Bad Weather Tips #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 to 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 the 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.

Something else you should do: Create a To-Go Bag. 

You may need to leave your campsite quickly.  Have a To-Go Emergency 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. 

RV Bad Weather Tips #3:  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.

Be Safe

It doesn’t matter if you are a full-time RVer or a weekend hobby camper, it is vital to be aware of your surroundings.  Watching the weather is part of the RV lifestyle.

We wish you safe travels.

Here are some extra resources we’ve shared through the years that may help:

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Mike Wendland

Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.

5 Comments

  • Excellent Article on weather preparedness.

  • 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”.

  • 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!

  • In the context of following the weather, this website can be very useful. It has real time, time lapse satellite imagery of clouds. One can window in to remarkably small areas.

    https://rammb-slider.cira.colostate.edu/?sat=goes-16&z=0&im=12&ts=1&st=0&et=0&speed=130&motion=loop&map=1&lat=0&opacity%5B0%5D=1&hidden%5B0%5D=0&pause=0&slider=-1&hide_controls=0&mouse_draw=0&follow_feature=0&follow_hide=0&s=rammb-slider&sec=full_disk&p%5B0%5D=geocolor&x=10848&y=10848

    Best Regards

    Roger

  • 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 https://wildheartwanders.com/rv-weather/. 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!

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