5 Tips for Avoiding Extreme Weather While RVing

One of the best ways to spend a family vacation is by traveling in an RV. After all, combining a vacation home and a vehicle makes for a rather convenient road trip mobile, complete with a full kitchen and a bathroom. But what does one do in case of inclement weather experienced while traveling?

After all, there seem to be extreme weather possibilities in most of the US states, including forest fires in the west, tornadoes across the Midwestern states, extreme snow in the northern states, extreme heat and flash floods in the southwest, hurricanes in the south, and severe thunderstorms almost everywhere during the warmer months. Traveling to an area where you are unfamiliar with the weather may seem risky. However, if you keep these simple considerations in mind, you can successfully plan a fun and safe getaway for the entire family to enjoy.

Severe thunderstorms and hail are common in the Southwest and something to watch out for when RVing.

1. Be aware of forecasts before and during your trip.

This seems fairly self-explanatory, but sometimes the most simple considerations can be completely forgotten when excitedly planning for a trip. Checking the weather before even leaving for a trip can help you to have an idea of what you may experience over the next few days. If it all looks sunny and clear, then you are in luck. If you see any potential warnings or thunderstorms coming up, make a mental note to keep an eye on the weather throughout your trip.

Hurricanes are typically predicted days ahead of time and should be easy to avoid. If you know a hurricane is headed to an area where you plan to vacation, it may be best to go somewhere else and return when the weather is better.

In addition, be sure to check the weather on the daily in case anything changes. Certain apps can update you if a storm is approaching so that you know ahead of time. In an area where you are not entirely familiar with the weather, it is better to over-prepare than to be surprised by an incoming storm.

Tsunamis and tidal waves are common during storms on the West Coast.

2. Avoid areas with inclement weather in peak season.

To avoid dangerous weather altogether, it is best to avoid areas with extreme weather during their bad weather seasons. For instance, spring is tornado season across Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Avoiding traveling to these states in the spring seems like the safest option. Hurricanes are most extreme in Florida, Louisiana and east Texas, so avoiding these states during the summer and fall may be your safest option. During forest fire season out west, keep an eye on the current fires and their paths/containment when planning trips.

RVing in the snow is difficult but possible!

3. Have a plan in case of severe weather. 

Avoiding certain areas altogether may not be entirely possible. If this is the case, have an emergency plan in place prior to heading out for your vacation. Extreme weather is usually more of a possibility than a definite, so your chances of missing a storm are high. Having a plan will serve to set you up for success in case the worst should happen. 

This plan can be as simple as moving somewhere safe and indoors if a storm strikes. You may also want to plan to evacuate the entire area if conditions are bad enough. Whatever your plan is, make sure all family members know of it. It is best to ensure that everyone is on board before inclement weather even occurs.

Knowing the best hurricane evacuation route near you at all times is best in hurricane-prone areas.

4. Evacuate or hunker down during a “watch.”

During tornado season, knowing the difference between a warning and a watch is important. A watch is when a tornado is possible, but none have been sighted yet. These are often issued during the correct conditions for a storm in counties or areas where storms are frequent. A warning means that a tornado has been sighted and could potentially pass through your area.

When a tornado watch has been issued, you can then choose to either evacuate or stay and wait out the storm. Playing the situation by ear may be your best bet if you don’t want to cancel your trip early. However, the safest option may be to move outside of the danger zone if a tornado watch has been issued. Having to leave your campground or Harvest Host location early would be sad, but it may be better than encountering dangerous weather. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep a close eye on the weather in case it worsens.

Clouds often signal when a storm is about to roll in.

5. Move to a safer area during a “warning.”

If you decide to stay after a watch has occurred, and a warning is issued, you must then choose to evacuate or move somewhere safer. Evacuation to an area outside of the tornado range may be the safest option. However, sometimes when a warning is issued, there is not enough time to evacuate.

If this is the case, move somewhere safe indoors. Perhaps there are shelters nearby where you and your family could wait. If you are watching the weather and have planned accordingly, this situation is less likely. Still, it is best to have a few different plans and options if you are planning to vacation somewhere where storms are frequent.

Being in an RV during dangerous or even deadly weather does not sound fun. Only you know what is best for you and your family, and planning ahead can reduce the chances of surprise storms arising. All things considered, having a home on wheels is somewhat convenient in these situations because when a storm is brewing, you can simply gather your things and drive away. Missing out on your vacation would be a bummer, but it may sometimes be the safest decision. Watching the weather and having an emergency plan is very important. Plan accordingly to keep your family vacations safe, fun, and disaster-free.

Glowy and cloudy skies can often signal the onset of a storm.

Have you ever endured a dangerous storm during inclement weather? What was your experience? Do you have any tips to add for RVing during extreme weather? Feel free to share your tips and experiences below!

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  1. Michelle K
    13th June, 2019

    We have been camped in areas with tornado watches twice now. This is not a fun experience but one thing to know is the county that you are in when camping. The warnings are put out by county so knowing where you are will help you decide your course of action quicker and with a little less stress.

    1. Sam Binger
      15th June, 2019

      That sounds so stressful! Watching for warnings by county is a great idea and something I hadn’t thought of. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Michael
    13th June, 2019

    Keep in mind potential flooding and late snow.
    As you noted have a plan for a different route as well as safe, dry places to stay. A lake and river is nice in calm weather but may not be after a heavy rain.
    This year on our trip WI to FL we changed our route heading south to AVOID possible river flooding areas at the confluence with the Mississippi. We read terrible stories of “How fast the water around our camper rose” and “the exit road was flooded so we had no where to go!”

    On our route back north we ended up staying just south of the WI / IL border due to a projected 6″ band of heavy SNOW in late April! But a day later the forecast was to be sunny and 50 so we knew melting would occur.

    Why take that risk?!

    We drove home on dry roads and only saw snow in areas that were sheltered from the sun.

    1. Sam Binger
      15th June, 2019

      Great ideas, thanks for these! I hadn’t thought of the flooding or the late snow. Both an be disastrous! Glad you were able to still enjoy your trip safely.

  3. Patricia a Spaine
    2nd June, 2019

    I travel from Colorado to Minnesota several times between May and October…. in addition to watching the 10-day weather forecasts on weather.com , I also use the windy.com app to check the wind patterns and chose my route. A boxy small ultra light trailer just doesn’t do well in cross winds across the prairies.

    1. Sam Binger
      8th June, 2019

      I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right – it’s so important to keep an eye on wind when traveling, especially with big rigs. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Rosanne
    2nd June, 2019

    You did not mention a weather alert radio – critical because cell phone signals and WiFi are not always available in rural and remote areas.

    1. Sam Binger
      8th June, 2019

      Thanks for the tip! I hadn’t thought of that, but this would be very important in areas without signal. Thanks for sharing!