Ideally, you want warm weather and blue skies for all of your recreational travel days, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Sometimes you'll have to deal with severe weather. Due to their size and weight, RVs are particularly vulnerable targets when it comes to extreme weather. Let’s look at what you need to do when bad weather strikes including both on the road and at the camp site.
Hail can be a boon to RV owners both on and off the road and is often accompanied by high winds. Whether you’re on or off the road it’s important to seek cover for both safety of you and for the sake of your RV’s body. If you’re on the road simply pull over to the nearest exit to find cover or an overpass if you’re in a bind. If you’re parked, you may need to pull your RV into a covered area if one is available, any cover is better than no cover.
High winds are a very real danger to RV owners, especially while on the road. Wind has plenty of surface area to push against on both motorhomes and trailers leading to dangerous sway and general loss of control and stability. If high winds have you white-knuckled on the steering wheel, it’s best not to chance it and exit as soon as possible. If there are no exits in sight, I recommend pulling onto the shoulder to wait out the winds, as long as there is a generous space between your vehicle and oncoming traffic.
While lightning is certainly scary, it actually doesn’t present as much of a risk to you as you would think, even while on the road. Most RVs are made of metal and all have rubber tires. Even a direct strike would more than likely travel along the body directly into the ground. The largest risk lightning poses is frying parts of your electrical system and should be avoided for that risk alone. You should seek immediate shelter from lightning if your camper or trailer has a soft top or the frame is composed mostly of fiberglass or wood as these can still be vulnerable to strikes.
You should be more worried about the different weather systems that come along with the lightning. If lightning is striking within five miles of your vehicle, it's best to seek shelter at any parking lot or service area to wait out the thunderstorm.
Severe Weather at the Campsite
If you know severe weather will be approaching your campsite its best to get out of the RV altogether into a more stable brick and mortar shelter. This could include any concrete bathroom, rest area or lodge. Even if you’re only paying for a dry camping site, grounds managers should be more than happy to invite you into a safe shelter.
Make sure to remove any objects that could go flying and damage your vehicle in strong winds, such as grills and lawn chairs. Fold up any awnings and remove vehicle attachments from your RV before disconnecting it from shore power before you leave. If you are really in the sticks, it will probably be in your best interest to hunker down and ride out the storm. Trying to drive out in the middle of severe weather will likely make the situation worse.
We always wish for the perfect conditions for travel but seldom do we get the best weather for a whole trip.