5 Tips for Avoiding Extreme Weather While RVing

When severe weather strikes, there’s no time to think. That’s why you need to prepare for the worst NOW, before you’re faced with an emergency.

One of the best ways to spend a family vacation is by camping 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, a bedroom, 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.

Be aware of the potential for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Be aware of forecasts prior to and during your trip

This seems fairly self-explanatory but simple considerations can be completely forgotten when excitedly planning for a road trip. Checking the weather before 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.

Be aware of the potential for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hurricanes are typically predicted days in advance and should be easy to avoid. If you know a hurricane is headed to an area where you plan to vacation, alter your plans and return when the weather is less risky.

More on severe weather: Lightning and Thunderstorms: Safety Tips for RVers

In addition, be sure to check the weather on a daily basis in case the forecast changes. NOAA’s NWS, WeatherBug, Weather.com, and other online weather sites can give you a three- to ten-day forecast. In an area where you are not entirely familiar with the weather, it is better to over-prepare than to be surprised by a major weather event.

Be aware of the potential for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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 Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Avoiding traveling to these states in the spring seems like the safest option. Hurricanes are most extreme in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and south Texas, so avoiding these states during the late 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.

Be aware of the potential for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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 before heading out in your RV. 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 into a shelter if a storm strikes. You may also want to plan to evacuate the entire area if conditions are severe 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.

Be aware of the potential for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

More on severe weather: Dust Storms and Haboobs: Safety Tips for RVers

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. Whatever you choose, keep a close eye on the weather in case it worsens.

Be aware of the potential for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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, when a warning is issued there may not be 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.

Be aware of the potential for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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 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 are very important. Plan accordingly to keep your family vacations safe, fun, and disaster-free.

More on severe weather: Severe Weather: Tornado Safety Tips for RVers

Worth Pondering…

In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

—Mark Twain (1835-1910)