Bad weather while RVing is always possible to avoid. What happens when bad weather happens? Let’s talk about how we handle it.
High winds are probably you’re most common weather problem when RVing. If you live in a sticks-and-bricks house, normal high winds are annoying but aren’t really a problem. If you’re driving on a highway in an RV any wind over 20 mph is dangerous. It means hanging onto the steering wheel with both hands and being very diligent. Remember, you’re basically driving a big, solid wall down the highway and it catches all of the wind. These are white knuckle days. We try to plan travel days around high winds and weather, but that’s not always possible.
One fall, we were enjoying the mountains of Colorado when there was a forecast of an early snow. We decided to avoid the snow by driving east, out of the mountains and into the plains. There we encountered very, very high cross winds and driving was almost impossible. In other words, we drove from one kind of bad weather to another. Even 18-wheelers were pulling off the road. When we finally decided to join them, we realized we were in front of an RV park. We were thankful for a place to stay for the night to let the winds subside.
Of course, we couldn’t be that lucky. Overnight we had 10 inches of snow! Up until the snowfall, the weather had been in the 80’s so the snow melted quickly and the wind died down. We decided to continue our journey. Unfortunately, we weren’t aware that we had one more mountain pass to travel through. Because the mountain air was colder, the roads were solid ice. It was a harrowing drive that day, but we managed to avoid sliding off any cliffs. Whew!
Checking local weather is a good place to start checking weather conditions. But when travelling long distances, you’ll need to check other locations. One good way to do that is with an app. We like to use “Highway Weather”. It’s free and there is a paid version. The free version allows you to enter your location and destination and then provides a route with weather warnings. “Weather on the Way” is another app that does the same thing. It’s free for the first five trips and then becomes a paid app.
High winds are one thing, but tornadoes are another. We try to avoid “Tornado Alley” in the spring when most tornadoes occur. Of course, with climate change tornadoes are pretty unpredictable. When a tornado is forecast the last place you want to be is in an RV, trailer or vehicle of any kind. I’ve watched videos of 18-wheelers flying through the air. That’s not where I want to be! If you’re in an RV park or a designated campground, there should be a suitable building to seek shelter in. Likely this will be a laundry, shower or bathroom. Remember to stay away from windows and doors as much as possible. Do NOT stay in your RV!
If you’re boondocking and the weather is forecasting tornadoes, consider spending some extra money and getting a motel room for the night. Many motels now allow animals and the money spent will be well worth it if a tornado strikes. Your life is worth the expense.
Many wonderful camping sites are at the bottom of canyons and near rivers. When the weather’s good, I wouldn’t want to camp anywhere else. But pay attention to the weather, even if it isn’t raining where you are. Flash floods are just that, floods that come out of nowhere in a flash. Heavy rains upstream can cause flooding downstream where you’re camped without any warning. In organized campgrounds, rangers or campground hosts will probably let you know when there is a danger of flash flooding. If you are told by the authorities to leave an area, do it immediately and without question. If you’re boondocking, you are the one responsible for your safety. Be weather aware.
Snow and Ice
What can I say about snow and ice? We try to avoid this at all costs. One of the reasons we RV is so we can live where it’s always 70 degrees outside. However, if you’re someone who wants to visit the mountains in the snow, then you need to take precautions. Buy chains for your tires. Watch the weather and don’t always believe everything that Google tells you. Stay on well-maintained, plowed roads. Drive slowly and be careful. My only other advice about snow and ice is to avoid it at all costs.
Again, we want to be where the weather is comfortable. This was hard to do last summer as it seemed to be 100 degrees everywhere in the country. Although we really prefer to boondock, when it’s really, really hot we look for an RV park with electricity so we can run our air conditioner. We do all of the other things that one usually does when it’s hot. We try to park in the shade. We keep shades drawn to keep out the sun. And we sweat a lot. When it’s 100 degrees and above there’s really no way to keep your RV cool, just cooler. We also have wonderful little USB powered personal fans that we couldn’t live without. We have yet to find a good rechargeable fan, but we’ll let you know when we do. The ones we’ve tried to date don’t seem to last very long.
Today we have been successful in chasing the great weather. I’m writing this post at a picnic table under the trees. It’s 78 degrees in early March in Texas. Life couldn’t be better. Unfortunately, I know this weather won’t last. Future trips will require that we monitor the weather, the winds in particular. That’s life on the road.