Weather Terms RVers Need to Know

All the winter storm advisories, alerts, watches, and warnings that we’ll soon start seeing can be confusing. The National Weather Service does a great job of disseminating weather predictions but sometimes it can be hard to know just what is what.

In the year 350 B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle gave one of the earliest descriptions of weather patterns in a text called Meteorologica. It included some of mankind’s first attempts to observe and record natural phenomena like water evaporation and earthquakes. Although it was a far cry from the Weather Channel, Meteorologica was the start of something that had eluded human beings for time immemorial: the ability to understand—and even predict—the weather.

Modern weather forecasting is a $7 billion-a-year industry—and for good reason. Despite all the advanced technology of modern society, humans are still pretty much at the mercy of the elements. America’s GDP can fluctuate by more than $1.34 trillion depending on the weather. In 2020 alone, more than 60,000 weather events killed 585 people in the United States and injured more than 1,700 more with flash floods, tropical storms, heat, tornadoes, ice storms, and thunderstorms doing most of the damage.

Weather forecasters are easy targets because, like football referees, people tend to take notice only when they get it wrong. The reality, however, is that meteorologists are right in astonishing percentages. When weathermen and women issue seven-day forecasts, they’re accurate about 80 percent of the time—90 percent for five-day forecasts.

If someone had told Aristotle that human beings would one day be able to accurately predict the weather nine times out of 10, five days in advance, he likely would have laughed at their overactive imagination.

It’s important to note that climate and weather are not interchangeable terms. Weather describes the short-term—day-to-day and hour-to-hour—state of the atmosphere including temperature, precipitation, wind, and visibility. Climate, on the other hand, measures average weather patterns over several decades.

I used a variety of scientific sources to compile this list of common weather terms that RVers should know and understand.

Coachella Valley, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Atmospheric pressure

Humans inhabit the very bottom of the Earth’s atmosphere and everything above creates atmospheric pressure. High-pressure systems form when downward pressure creates a clockwise air rotation, unlike low-pressure systems which generate counter-clockwise rotation. Both phenomena which are measured with barometers are critical to predicting weather events.

Black ice

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of winter-related fatalities so when a meteorologist warns about the potential for black ice drivers should take it seriously. Black ice gets its name because it’s so thin that it’s nearly invisible on the road surface but the ice itself isn’t black. Black ice forms when sudden temperature increases causing snow to melt and drip onto roadways that are still cold enough to make the liquid water freeze on contact.

Blizzard

Not just any big snowstorm qualifies as a blizzard. A storm must meet three criteria to earn the harshest classification in winter weather. Blizzards have frequent wind gusts of at least 35 mph, sustained falling or blowing snow that reduces visibility to less than a quarter-mile, and these conditions are maintained for at least three consecutive hours.

Breezy and windy

The terms windy and breezy are sometimes used interchangeably but they don’t describe the same phenomenon. Breezy conditions involve air moving between 12 and 22 mph during pleasant conditions. Windy days, on the other hand, involve stronger winds up to 50 mph during stormy or inclement weather.

Dew point

The dew point represents the temperature to which air would have to be cooled to reach a level of moisture saturation. When it reaches the dew point, droplets of water or dew begin to form on solid objects like grass and vehicles.

Drought

Most people know droughts result from an extended lack of precipitation and abnormally high temperatures but overpopulation and land overuse are contributing factors, too. Droughts are among the most destructive forces in nature—only hurricanes are more economically damaging to the United States.

Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

El Niño

The opposing warm half of ENSO is called El Niño (The Boy) which occurs irregularly every two to seven years and is often followed closely by a La Niña (see below) pattern. It warms the oceans and creates the opposite effect in terms of not just ocean temperatures but atmospheric pressure. It, too, is associated with irregular and sometimes severe weather patterns.

Flash flood

Flash flooding occurs when large amounts of water from sudden torrential rains—or occasionally an incident like the breaking of a dam—gushes through a narrow area that isn’t capable of absorbing high volumes of water. In many cases, flash floods which can roll cars and destroy houses happen in the immediate aftermath of extended droughts where parched land can’t absorb the influx of water quickly enough.

Flood crest

Flooding is one of the deadliest and most destructive weather phenomena in the country and on the planet. Weather professionals use specific terminology to describe rivers as they rise from excess water. A flood crest is the peak—the highest level the water will rise—which is the most significant and dangerous time of a flood but also an indication that the flood will soon recede.

Freezing rain

Freezing rain is formed through the same general process that creates sleet (see below) but they’re not the same thing. Sleet falls to the ground as ice. Freezing rain, on the other hand, remains in liquid form until it hits a cold object and then instantly freezes on contact.

Frost

Gardeners make their plans according to the first and last frost schedules in their respective agricultural zones. The frozen version of dew, frost occurs when cold, moisture-soaked air deposits water that freezes and leaves an icy film on things like plants and car windows.

Hail

Unlike sleet (see below) which is ice formed by rain falling through very cold air, hail is a much more dangerous phenomenon associated with much more dangerous weather. Hail forms when powerful updrafts inside of thunderstorms force water well above the freezing level. That water freezes into large hailstones which eventually become too heavy for the updraft and come crashing down to Earth.

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Haze

The dreaded three H’s are hazy, hot, and humid. Hot is self-explanatory, humidity deals with the level of moisture in the air but what exactly does it mean to be hazy? A haze can look like a thin fog but it isn’t caused by precipitation. Hazy conditions occur when large amounts of fine, dry particulate matter like dirt are suspended in the air which scatters light and gives the lower atmosphere a cloudy appearance.

Heat index

The heat index is essentially the same thing as the wind chill factor (see below) but for the opposite sensation of environmental exposure. It represents how hot the temperature feels when humidity is considered. The more humid the air, the less perspiration can evaporate which cripples the human body’s cooling system and makes it feel hotter when it’s humid outside.

Heat wave

Heat waves are long periods of abnormally warm weather. To qualify as a heat wave, it must last for at least two days and consist of temperatures that are outside the region’s historical average.

Ice storm

Ice storms are extended episodes of freezing rain that occur when precipitation falls in liquid form and freezes on contact. It becomes an ice storm when a quarter-inch or more of ice accumulates creating dangerous conditions. Ice storms which can be deadly and cause a lasting impact can add 500 pounds to the weight of power lines and increase the weight of tree limbs by a multiplier of 30.

Jet stream

Jet streams are thin but intense winds in the highest reaches of the atmosphere. Following the boundaries of cold and warm air, jet streams blow west to east although their flow sometimes shifts to north and south. Not only do these rivers of air affect global weather and help meteorologists identify atmospheric patterns but they’re crucial to air travel as flying into and out of them can dramatically affect fuel consumption and flight time.

La Niña

One half of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, La Niña (The Girl) is a global weather pattern that describes a dramatic cooling of ocean temperatures in the Western Hemisphere. La Niña is known for its disruptive impact on weather specifically heavy rainfall and an increase in low-pressure systems.

Okefenokee, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Microburst

Microbursts are among the most dangerous and unpredictable weather phenomena on Earth and they form inside of already-dangerous thunderstorms. Updrafts—columns of rapidly rising air—sometimes suspend large amounts of rain and ice and when the updraft weakens, there’s nothing left to hold all that water and ice in place. That leads to a massive downdraft which sends the core of the column crashing to the ground and, upon impact, bursting out in all directions, leading to tornado-like winds, pressure, and destruction.

Nor’easter

Nor’easters are major, dangerous storms that are exclusive to the Northeastern United States. Geography, however, is not where these storms get their name. Nor’easters are named for the direction in which the storm’s most intense winds blow. Those winds are usually severe and they’re known to bring rain and snow and cause flooding and storm surges.

Polar vortex

The menacing phrase polar vortex is a relatively new term for winter weather forecasting but meteorologists have understood it as a concept for decades. A polar vortex occurs when a large section of very cold air, usually the coldest in the entire northern hemisphere, is pushed down the North American continent as far south as the Midwestern and Northeastern United States.

Relative humidity

Relative humidity is closely related to dew point (see above) but the two terms are not interchangeable. This term describes the amount of atmospheric moisture that exists relative to the amount that would exist if the air was saturated.

Severe thunderstorm

There are garden-variety thunderstorms and severe thunderstorms and when meteorologists mention the latter, the public should take it seriously. To be classified as severe, thunderstorms must include two potentially deadly elements: winds of at least 58 mph and hail at least one inch in diameter.

Sleet

One of the more unpleasant precipitation events associated with winter is sleet which stings the skin and turns roads and sidewalks into ice-skating rinks. Sleet graces the world with its presence when rain or melted snow freezes and turns into ice on its way from the sky to the ground.

Bernheim Forest, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Storm surge

It’s common to hear meteorologists warn that storm surge is one of the deadliest and most dangerous parts of major weather events like hurricanes. The phenomenon occurs when significant storms cause an abnormal rise in seawater above the limits of the astronomical tide. Storm surges can cause rapid, significant, and deadly flooding in coastal regions.

Tropical depression

Before a weather event graduates into a tropical storm, it’s a tropical depression. The infant stage of a hurricane, a tropical depression is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds up to 38 mph.

Tropical storm

People sometimes use the terms tropical storm and hurricane interchangeably but one is an evolution of the other. Tropical storms form in the same places and under the same conditions as hurricanes but they achieve maximum sustained wind of just 39–73 mph. If a tropical storm’s maximum sustained winds hit 74 mph, it becomes a hurricane.

Watches and warnings

Meteorologists issue precautions to inform residents about the likelihood of serious and fast-moving weather events like tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Watches are less serious and indicate that conditions are present for the formation of a severe weather event. Warnings, on the other hand, indicate that an event has been identified by a person or radar, a tornado or thunderstorm is imminent and to seek shelter immediately.

Wind chill

Everyone in North America north of a certain latitude knows there are two temperatures they have to consider when getting dressed in the morning in winter—the actual temperature reading and the one that counts: the wind chill factor. Also known as the feels-like temperature, wind chill represents how cold the weather feels on human skin when the chilling effect of the wind is taken into consideration.

Avery Island, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wintry mix

Two words cold-weather commuters never want to hear are a wintry mix. When precipitation travels through an above-freezing warm layer of air followed by a cold, below-freezing layer, snow, sleet, and freezing rain can fall simultaneously.

Since we’re talking weather, here are a few related articles:

Worth Pondering…

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

—Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Coastal Spine Barrier: Infrastructure Project to Limit Hurricane Devastation along Texas Gulf Coast

The Coastal Spine Barrier is a nearly $30 billion project that could soon be in place along the eastern coast of Texas

In 2008, Hurricane Ike devastated the island town of Galveston with head-high floodwaters and 110-mile-per-hour winds that caused billions of dollars of damage and killed dozens of people.

Protecting Galveston isn’t the only goal of a massive series of infrastructure projects meant to limit the devastation from extreme weather. Scientists have modeled worst-case scenario storms that also make clear the potential for devastation in nearby Houston.

Rockport, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Given that the state’s largest city is home to millions of people and the nation’s largest petrochemical complex the region’s vulnerability to deadly storm surges is seen as both a national security and economic issue.

Even though Hurricane Harvey made landfall much farther down the coast in 2017, its torrential rains put large swaths of Houston underwater and drove home the widespread damage a hurricane could inflict on the nation’s fourth-largest city.

“If you think about it, 42 percent of the specialty chemical feedstocks for the entire United States is produced here,” said Bob Mitchell, president at Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. “Twenty seven percent of the gas, 60 percent of the jet aviation fuel, 80 percent of the military-grade aviation fuel is all produced right in this region that the coastal spine will protect. Not including the 5.5 million people that live in this area.”

A coastal storm barrier has been a topic of discussion and debate for over a decade. Bill Merrell, a marine sciences professor at the Texas A&M University at Galveston began preaching the storm barrier gospel after Ike. In early 2009, just a few months after the storm, he introduced a concept dubbed the Ike Dike which mirrored a Dutch concept of stopping storm surges right at the coast. The Netherlands is a low-lying country that has become the world leader in flood control.

Rockport, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After centuries of fighting back water in a low-lying nation, the Dutch have become the world leaders in flood control. And their expertise is helping Texas design what would become the nation’s most ambitious and expensive coastal barrier.

The Delta Works later declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers surrounded a fifth of the country’s population with an ingenious combination of dams, dikes, locks, and first-of-their-kind storm surge barriers. It took decades to finish it all—much longer than expected.

After engineering what they tout as the safest delta in the world the Dutch have ramped up the export of their expertise; they have advised several U.S. states and other coastal areas around the world on protecting lives and property from storms and rising sea levels.

A preliminary design has been approved for a storm suppression system that would run along the Texas coast from Galveston to Corpus Christi but it could ultimately impact the entire country.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The project is the largest civil works project ever taken on by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Not only could it protect the lives of people on the Gulf Coast, it could also help eliminate supply-chain delays across the country by protecting two large ports during hurricanes.

Galveston Mayor Craig Brown said residents have become annoyed with frequent flooding.

“We have nuisance flooding now which means that that flooding occurs even without a flood or tropical storm or a hurricane here,” Brown said.

While flooding becomes worse with heavy rains or hurricanes, Dr. Kelly Burkes-Copes with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers believes a solution is underway.

“The idea and intent is to combine a series of gated structures—kind of what we consider gray infrastructure; you may think of it as concrete and water with natural and nature-based solutions like beaches and dunes and wetlands to basically improve resilience of the entire Texas coast,” Burkes-Copes said.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Coastal Spine Barrier is a nearly $30 billion project that would allow the Gulf Coast to withstand, endure, and recover from storms quicker and it wouldn’t only protect the locals.

“The intent here is a national issue. For example, if the Houston Port which is the largest port in the nation shuts down as a result of a hurricane, the rest of the country will feel that impact,” Burkes-Copes said.

Rich Byrnes, the Chief Infrastructure Officer at the Port of Houston said the tonnage the port receives is steadily increasing. 

“The Port of Houston area moves about 270 million tons. And, to put that into perspective, that’s more than many large states,” Byrnes said. 

The Port of Houston and Galveston account for 12 percent of the total U.S. crude oil imports as of May 2018, the Energy Information Administration reports and the Port of Houston has seen a 13 percent increase of overall economic value since then.

“After Hurricane Harvey, the price of gas was elevated for six months nationwide because the time it took to start the refineries and so forth,” Byrnes said.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite the backing behind the project, one more obstacle stands in the way of the hurricane barrier or coastal spine project: matching federal funds.

“We have to have a local funding source to not only build the system, but to maintain it,” Brown said. 

One funding option available is adding a tax but officials must consider if Texas residents across the state would be okay with paying taxes for a barrier in Galveston.

Worth Pondering…

The only two good words that can be said for a hurricane are that it gives sufficient warning of its approach and that it blows from one point of the compass at a time.

—Gertrude Atherton

As Hurricane Season Ramps Up It Is Never Too Early to Prepare

These tips will help you steer clear of danger in storm-prone areas

Hurricane season stretches from June 1 through November 30 each year. This encompasses both the peak summer travel season and popular fall holidays.

At least one hurricane makes landfall in the U.S. nearly every year bringing wind speeds of more than 160 mph along with trillions of gallons of rain. Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and other Atlantic and Gulf Coast states are generally the most impacted. If your travel plans include traveling to—or through—locales that are vulnerable to extreme weather you need to take extra steps to ensure you’re protected.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Atlantic hurricane season is on a lot of people’s minds as we enter the final weeks of August. Experts at the National Hurricane Center initially predicted near-normal Atlantic hurricane activity at the beginning of the season but revised their forecast on August 10. They are now calling for a 60 percent chance of an above-average season, up from 30 percent.  

Earlier in the season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast 12 to 17 named storms. Now, the agency projects 14 to 21 storms including tropical storms and hurricanes. About half of those are expected to be full-blown hurricanes. Not all storms are expected to make landfall.

While the El Niño we’re experiencing would often suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin, it’s expected the warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures will allow more storms to develop.

On average, the greatest tropical activity in the Atlantic occurs between mid-August and mid-October with the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season in less than three weeks on September 10. 

Rockport, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hurricanes, the gift of notice

Unlike other natural disasters across the world—earthquakes, tornados, flash floods, and wildfires—hurricanes come with the built-in gift of advance notice. 

It’s quite rare for one to sneak up on you without a couple of days (or more) notice. And just because it’s hurricane season and you’re in the zone (which stretches all along the Gulf of Mexico coast and up the eastern seaboard) doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be impacted by a major storm. 

Paying attention to tropical storm forecasts by visiting the National Hurricane CenterTropical Tidbits, and Windy can give you plenty of time to execute your hurricane plan. 

(If you’re choosing to be in a hurricane area, you do have a hurricane plan, right?) 

Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs have wheels—use them!

I’ve heard the argument that an RV is designed to encounter sustained 60-80 mile-per-hour winds. After all, that’s what they undergo when we drive them down the interstate. So, some RVers just plan to stay put through the smaller storms. 

But a broadside 130 mph gust can flip an RV right over. 

RVs also aren’t built for flying debris that high winds can toss around. Tree branches, heck—whole trees, lawn furniture, pieces of fences, and more can all become deadly projectiles in those sorts of winds—and severely damage traditional homes, never mind our flimsy RVs. 

And remember, hurricanes aren’t just wind events. They can spawn severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, storm surges, and massive flooding rains. 

The preferred hurricane plan for an RV is to do what they do best—turn on the ignition and drive away! Our homes have wheels. USE THEM. RVs are perfect bug-out vehicles being self-contained wherever we land. 

Know the area you are in and what the actual risks are. Coastal areas are prone to more severe impacts and will often have mandatory evacuations ordered once warnings go up.  

Some RV Parks or campgrounds may close down and kick you out as part of their storm preps. 

You really might not have a choice to stay. 

If you’re more inland, you may be okay or just need to move a hundred or so more miles out of the way to be safer. Talk with locals who have gone through a storm or three. And track the constantly changing storm forecasts closely.  

Rockport, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for being prepared for hurricanes in an RV

Keep your tanks at their optimal levels, always

When an evacuation is ordered, local fuel stations will become overwhelmed with everyone filling up. Trying to maneuver your large RV in that chaos will be a disaster in itself. 

Fuel can become scarce as the storm approaches and remain that way for days or weeks after the storm. Always keep your fuel tanks full, so you’re ready to turn the key and drive away or able to use your generator after the storm when power may be out for weeks. 

Keep your fresh water tank topped off as well, especially in the day or two before a storm approaches. Some RV parks may turn off water in preparation and after the storm water may be unavailable due to contamination or water main breaks. Use your RV water tank to your advantage. 

Empty those black and grey tanks in advance of the storm! You just don’t know when you’ll be able to dump again as drainage systems could become backed up with flooding from the storm. 

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you evacuate, anticipate that main roads will be slow going—especially if you wait until the last days before the storm’s approach. Staying aware and getting out early can result in a smoother exodus but could also result in evacuating for no reason if the storm’s track changes. Always try to stay ahead of the mass exodus if you can and consider taking back roads instead of main roads to avoid as much traffic as possible. 

As you’re evacuating, continue to track the storm—its path could change to intersect with your destination!

So where should you head? As far away from where the hurricane is predicted to travel as possible. While local parks might be shutting down, other facilities might open up and welcome evacuating RVers—sometimes even for free. Stay in the know via various RVing groups who will often share various suggestions of places you can head. 

After the storm, if you decide to head back to where you evacuated from investigate first to see if it’s even safe. Anticipate power and water not being available, massive damage, stores not being open or stocked for a while, and your RV park not even being suitable for return. 

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If it is safe to return, your self-contained RV may be the perfect base camp to endure the challenges. Perhaps you can even bring in supplies from outside to help others and pitch in and help with the clean-up while locals are dealing with significant damage.

I have more on hurricanes and other natural disasters:

Stay safe out there!

Worth Pondering…

In reality, you don’t ever change the hurricane. You just learn how to stay out of its path.     

—Jodi Picoult

New Airborne Radar Could Be a Game-Changer for Forecasting Hurricanes

The start of June marks the start of hurricane season in the Atlantic

June 1 marks the start of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season which extends through November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) seasonal outlook predicts another active, yet near-normal Atlantic hurricane season with 12-17 named storms forecasted, 1-4 becoming major hurricanes. According to the National Hurricane Center, 2022 had only two major hurricanes but was considered one of the costliest seasons on record.

Goose Island State Park, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But experts have noted this season comes with a high level of uncertainty based on a developing El Niño and an unusually warm Atlantic Basin. Strong westerly winds spurred on by El Niño—a natural climate pattern marked by warmer-than-average Pacific Ocean water—tend to prevent nascent Atlantic storms from developing. This occurs because those increased upper-level winds can tear apart hurricanes as they try to form.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center provides tropical storm and hurricane forecasts and warnings to help mitigate the impact of large storms. Recent technological advances have also helped the cause like the GOES-16 satellite. This satellite makes it possible to see hurricanes and other storms in their formative stages which help weather forecasters stay up to date.

The National Weather Service has invested substantially in supercomputing to gain three-fold processing power in turn reducing storm tracking and location error rates.

Goose Island State Park, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With the capability to fly over severe weather and achieve high altitudes for up to 30 hours straight, intelligence gathered by Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk UAV has helped civilian authorities assess storm strength and direction and plan next steps for warnings and disaster relief. In partnership with NASA and NOAA, the Global Hawk UAV has been used to track hurricane intensification.

Next-generation radar technology capable of taking 3D slices of hurricanes and other storms is poised to move ahead after years of fits and starts.

Rockport-Fulton, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Driving the news: The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced $91.8 million in funding on June 1— the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season—for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to design, build, and test airborne phased array radar.

The technology consists of thousands of transmitters and receivers on horizontal plates mounted at different points on a plane.

Together, they would scan storms in unprecedented detail from storms’ overall organization to the type, shape, and direction of movement of droplets within the clouds.

Rockport-Fulton, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why it matters: Currently, NOAA’s aging hurricane research aircraft fly tail-mounted Doppler radars into the heart of hurricanes. But the new APAR could yield significant insights into weather predictions and climate projections.

For example, it could provide a far more detailed picture of the inner structure of a hurricane. The data can then be fed into computer models to warn of sudden intensity changes and track shifts.

Rockport-Fulton, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Context: Hurricanes are churning out more rainfall than they used to. The storms are more likely to rapidly intensify with several landfalling systems in recent years leaping multiple categories on the Saffir Simpson Scale in just 24 to 36 hours.

In September 2022, Hurricane Ian suddenly jumped from a Category 3 storm to almost a Category 5. It used to be rare for storms to keep strengthening until landfall let alone do so rapidly. Now it is not. Such an intensity leap was made possible by warm ocean temperatures and abundant atmospheric moisture.

During the past several years, there have been multiple storms that rapidly intensified as they neared the Gulf Coast and did so through landfall. Previously, tropical storms and hurricanes tended to weaken as they neared the northern Gulf Coast in particular falling victim to cooler waters or stronger jet stream winds.

But that did not happen with Hurricanes Laura or Ida in 2020 and 2021—or with Hurricane Michael which ramped all the way up to a Category 5 storm in the Florida Panhandle in 2018.

This technology may also be able to improve understanding of these weather phenomena.

Goose Island State Park, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zoom in: The funding will be used for a radar-outfitted C-130 research aircraft operated jointly by NSF and NCAR.

NCAR director Everette Joseph said the radar should be ready for use in 2028.

In addition to the NCAR research radar, NOAA is planning to buy a new fleet of C-130 hurricane hunters and outfit them with APAR units. It aims to have them flying in 2030.

The NSF investment does not cover NOAA’s new equipment though the oceans and atmosphere agency would benefit from NCAR’s research insights.

Rockport-Fulton, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Between the lines: In selecting NCAR for the funding and research, the NSF is following a long-established model with the Boulder, Colorado-based organization.

The partnership has helped advance weather and climate forecasting for decades.

However, NCAR has hit turbulence recently. Last week, NCAR and NSF announced a temporary suspension of flight operations at its research aviation facility at Rocky Mountain Municipal Airport which would be integrally involved in the APAR project.

An NSF spokesperson told Axios the reason for the stand-down was the “discovery of several lapses related to the safety management systems” at the facility.

“NCAR has done an initial analysis and does not expect any impacts on APAR from the safety stand-down at this time,” the spokesperson said.

Currently, a third-party review is taking place “to review NCAR’s aviation processes, culture, communication, and organizational structure,” the NSF said, projecting a return to full flight operations in the fall.

NCAR and the related University Corporation for Atmospheric Research are also trying to find more pilots in the wake of pandemic-related shutdowns and retirements, NSF stated.

Rockport-Fulton, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What they’re saying: APAR has been a priority for storm researchers and forecasters for years but is only now poised for flight.

Scott Rayder, a former NOAA chief of staff who now leads Leidos’ climate, energy, and environment activities said such technological leaps should not take so long given that lives are at stake with severe storms.

“When I first heard about the technology in 2012 I knew APAR would be a game changer,” Rayder told Axios. “The fact that it took 10 years to get to this decision is a concern—we need to find ways to more rapidly develop technologies like APAR and move them into operations.”

Go deeper

Stay safe out there!

Worth Pondering…

In reality, you don’t ever change the hurricane. You just learn how to stay out of its path.     

—Jodi Picoult

Are You Prepared for the Next Great Weather Event?

Educate yourself ahead of time. Every type of extreme weather event presents a unique challenge.

We know that weather can either make or break a camping trip. Sunshine and blue skies are what make RV trips a fun experience but we can’t always be that fortunate. Every once in a while a storm or unexpected temperatures sneak up on us and we must be fully prepared for when nature is having an off day. Extreme weather is more dangerous when in an RV than in a house. Here are some severe weather tips for RVers for when the going gets tough.

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The most important thing to do is stay updated on the most current weather as much as possible to avoid surprises and prepare for any bad weather that may be on its way. Checking the weather before leaving on a road trip will provide some insight into what you may experience over the next several days.

As with any emergency, you want to be prepared ahead of time. Create an emergency plan for every situation and make sure your family knows the procedures. Write out the procedures and post them for future reference.

Seek shelter before the weather becomes extreme. No possession is worth more than you and your family. The worst thing to do is to wait around to determine the actions of others, wait for rescue, or wait until the last minute to know the severity of the weather event.

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Prepare an emergency supply kit and place it in a convenient location that is easy to access. Consider including the following items: whistles, extra blankets, rain ponchos, non-perishable packaged/canned food, can opener, flashlights, a flare gun, a first aid kit, necessary prescription drugs, a compass, pet supplies/food, and bottled water.

Know the county you are located in and the surrounding counties. When you hear a weather alert message on your smartphone, radio, or television you’ll be able to determine where the storm is located and how quickly it will approach your current location.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Weather Service (NWS) provide information on current conditions, incoming storms, and emergency radio station lists. Have an NOAA battery-operated alert radio with an automatic alert mode, smartphone charger, and several flashlights in your RV? Top-rated mobile weather apps include WeatherBug, AccuWeather, and The Weather Channel.

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lightning and thunderstorms

According to NOAA, at any given moment in the day there are roughly 2,000 thunderstorms in progress across the globe. The United States experiences 100,000 thunderstorms every year with spring and summer afternoons seeing the highest frequency of events. Each storm can bring a suite of problems from hail to high winds but it’s lightning that is your number one concern.

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key points to keep in mind include:

  • Lightening kills more people annually than tornadoes or hurricanes
  • Taking shelter inside any building or vehicle is safer than being outside
  • Rain does not signify the beginning of a dangerous storm; thunder does
  • Anytime you hear thunder you’re at risk of a lightning strike; close your awning, store anything that can blow away, and get indoors as quickly as possible
  • Lightning strikes can damage the electrical power in your unit so it’s a good idea to use an Electric Management System (Progressive Industries or Surge Guard)

More on lightning/thunderstorms:

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flash floods

The severity and speed of flash floods make them one of the most harrowing weather events adventurers might encounter. They occur when excessive water fills normally a dry canyon or wash and when creeks and rivers rise rapidly from rainfall within their watershed.

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, a creek that’s only six inches deep in the mountains can swell to a ten-foot-deep raging river in less than an hour if a thunderstorm lingers over an area for an extended period.

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key points to keep in mind include:

  • Do not attempt to cross any water higher than your ankles
  • As little as 6 inches of water flowing quickly can knock an adult down
  • Less than 2 feet of water can sweep a car away or stall it out with you stuck inside
  • You rarely have time to move your RV; get to higher ground and stay safe
  • TURN AROUND DON’T DROWN

More on flash floods: Flash Floods: Safety Tips for RVers

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dust storm

Dust storms (also called Haboobs) are unexpected, and unpredictable, and can sweep across the desert landscape at any time. Dust storms can reduce visibility to near zero in seconds resulting in deadly, multi-vehicle accidents on roadways. Dust storms can be miles long and thousands of feet high. 

Dust storms can occur anywhere in the United States but are most common in the Southwest. In Arizona, dust storms most frequently occur during monsoon season (June-September) but they can pop up at any time of the year. Drivers of high-profile recreation vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds.

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key points to keep in mind include:

  • DO NOT drive into or through a dust storm. PULL ASIDE. STAY ALIVE.
  • Do not stop in a travel lane or the emergency lane. Look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.
  • Turn off all vehicle lights including your emergency flashers. You do not want other vehicles approaching from behind to use your lights as a guide possibly crashing into your parked vehicle.
  • Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
  • Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
  • PULL OFF! LIGHTS OFF! FOOT OFF!

More on dust storms: Dust Storms and Haboobs: Safety Tips for RVers

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tornados

Tornado Alley which stretches from mid-Texas north to North Dakota is plagued by a high frequency of tornadoes. But the disastrous storms aren’t just relegated to the plains. Tornadoes can happen anywhere. While tornadoes can form quickly—on average, NOAA releases a tornado warning in the potential impact area 15 minutes before the tornado hits—most are born from thunderstorms.

Key points to keep in mind include:

  • When you register at an RV campground, ask about the tornado and storm warning systems for the area
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in any type of vehicle
  • RVs do not provide good protection during a tornado
  • Be ready to go when a tornado WATCH is issued

More on tornadoes: Severe Weather: Tornado Safety Tips for RVers

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Extreme Heat

Extreme heat poses a threat to young children, older adults, and anyone who doesn’t take the right safety precautions before and during a heat wave. Heat-related incidents can be prevented with a few measures to ensure that both you and your family can safely get through the heat wave.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke need to be taken seriously. If you feel like you’re becoming dizzy, weak, or nauseous after spending time in the sun, take care of yourself as soon as possible. These conditions can quickly get worse if you ignore them. 

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key points to keep in mind include:

  • Limit your exposure to the sun
  • Stay hydrated by drinking at least 16 ounces of water every hour in the heat to replenish your body and prevent dehydration
  • Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing; a wide-brimmed hat, correct shoes, sunscreen, and wet bandanas to keep you cool while in the sun
  • Be aware of the heat and humidity index (a relative humidity of 60 percent or higher makes it hard for sweat to evaporate off your body)

More on extreme heat:

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hurricane

The devastating power of hurricanes can change your life, or even end it, in seconds. An RV is not a safe place to ride out a hurricane. Hurricanes pack enough punch to destroy everything in their wake and in those times it is best to be prepared for an immediate evacuation. Your RV can become your best friend and your ticket to safety if you take certain safety measures for yourself and your vehicle.

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key points to keep in mind include:

  • As soon as you know a hurricane is likely to come your way, load up your RV and head out before the Interstate becomes a virtual parking lot
  • Get as far from the coast and bodies of water as you can

More on hurricanes:

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wildfires

Wildfires are highly unpredictable and can be deadly. With the severe heat, drought conditions, and wildfires burning across much of the western US states and Canada, those who are out adventuring need to be aware of wildfire conditions and what can be done to keep you and your family safe.

Over time, wildfires have become more prevalent. The changing climate makes droughts more frequent, generates more wind (which whips and spreads the flames) and leaves areas more susceptible to wildfires or the more dangerous and larger-scale mega-fires.

The peak month of wildfire season is August when areas become increasingly dry, hot, and more susceptible to wildfire. The states with the highest number of wildfires are California, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Oregon.

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key points to keep in mind include:

  • Know the current wildfire conditions and fire restrictions for the area you are traveling
  • Choose a campsite that has more than one escape route
  • If you do see an unattended fire or out of control fire, contact the authorities by calling 911 or the Forest Service immediately
  • If you are asked to evacuate, do so immediately

More on wildfires: Camping Awareness: Wildfire Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Blizzards/Snowstorms

The best advice is to stay off the road, sit tight, and wait the weather out. Risking your life or the life of your family is not worth it for a road trip. Keep snow tires/chains, extra blankets, and extra food and water. Check to ensure you have a full tank of fuel (which also helps to add additional weight), and check for correct tire pressure (low tire pressure increases the chance of hydroplaning).

Be prepared for severe weather © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Key points to keep in mind include:

  • Secure everything outside that has even the slightest potential to blow away
  • Keep a pair of thick gloves and a toque with you
  • Wearing multiple layers of light clothing will keep you warmer than one heavy layer

More on blizzards/snowstorms: Handling Cold Weather in Your RV

Worth Pondering…

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

—Mark Twain (1835-1910)

6 Things You Need To Know about Camping in a Storm

Survival tips for RV camping in storms and bad weather

Spring and summer storms can make RV camping a scary experience rather than the fun and pleasant one it should be. 

What’s an avid camper to do? Fortunately, there are ways to ensure you and your family stay safe while also fully enjoying the camping season. Here are my top tips for camping during storm season.

Storm clouds over Capital City RV Park, Montgomery, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Create a storm-smart route

Your tiny home has wheels, after all. Why not use them? 

By avoiding areas such as Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas during tornado season and places where hurricanes tend to crop up during hurricane season you can reduce your risk by quite a lot. Instead, choose to travel to those areas during other times of the year and focus on different destinations during times when storms are likely to come around.

Cleanup following a flash flood at Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Pay attention to weather reports

No matter when or where you decide to travel, you need to pay attention to the weather forecast. Knowing if and when a storm might crop up is important because it allows you to watch for it and get out of harm’s way if needed be. I recommend keeping a weather radio on hand for this purpose.

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

It’s also a good idea to install an app such as Weather Bug on your smart phone. This app will send you an alert should severe weather be headed your way. 

Storm clouds over Skyline Ranch Resort, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Stock up on the right supplies

Besides your weather apps and a hand-crank weather radio, there are a few other things you’ll want to keep on hand just in case you end up camping in a storm. These include:

  • Flashlight and spare batteries: This will help you see should the power go out
  • First aid kit: You never know what kind of injury you might need to tend to
  • Water: Being thirsty in a storm shelter is no fun; avoid it by packing bottles of water and be sure to stay hydrated
  • Snacks: In case you get hungry while waiting out a storm, you’ll be glad to have a few non-perishable snacks on hand

I recommend putting all these things into a tote bag. This should be kept in an easily accessible location near the exterior door. It will ensure you’re well prepared. Then you can get to safety quickly.

Make sure your family is fully dressed with closed-toed shoes. Grab your smart phone and any important documents in the rig. Then head to shelter. If you can, grab helmets and/or pillows to cover your head. They also protect you from flying objects. 

Know where to go! Pictured above Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Know where to go

Of course, if you’re going to head out when the weather gets bad, you don’t want to be confused about where to go. Always establish where you will go in case of a storm when you arrive at a new campground. 

More on severe weather: 5 Tips for Avoiding Extreme Weather While RVing

Numerous RV parks in tornado alley have storm shelters. As an alternative, head to a bathhouse or another sturdy structure with as few windows as possible. 

When you get to the place where you will wait out the storm, find a place that is far from windows and potential projectiles. Wear your helmets. Keep your important items under you. Use the weather radio to track the storm. Have your pillows close at hand in case you need them.

Overhead trees could be a problem during a severe storm on this site at Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Check your site

If you have enough notice of an impending storm, there are also several things you can do. If you plan to stay in your rig while camping in a storm, following these fairly simple steps can make a big difference. Take time to follow them. They include:

  • Take pets inside: Dogs and cats deserve a safe, dry place to weather the storm as much as you do—take them to the shelter with you
  • Remove projectiles: If you have chairs or other potential projectiles on your site, stow them; you don’t want one to go through a window
  • Close storage bay doors: Ensure your storage bay doors are closed and secured
  • Retract the awnings: RV awnings can’t stand up to much wind and rain. Keep yours intact by retracting before any kind of storm. As a word of caution, always retract the awning when leaving your rig or retiring for the night.
  • Close the windows: Obviously, you’ll also want to make sure all windows are closed and securely latched
  • Park away from trees: If possible, move your RV out from under trees that could break and fall on your roof causing extensive damage
  • Retract the slides: Slides can catch the wind causing an entire trailer or motorhome to flip
  • Fill the water tank: If it’s going to be very windy or if a tornado is headed your way consider filling your tanks to add more weight to your rig
Bring your pets indoors before a storm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Use common storm sense

Of course, you’ll also want to use your common sense when it comes to storms. Don’t hang out outdoors in a lightning storm. Avoid pools or other bodies of water. Especially if there is lightning in the area. If there is hail, get away from skylights and windshields.

More on severe weather: Hurricane Season: Staying Safe in your RV

Finally, you will want to watch for flooding and evacuate quickly. Head for higher ground if it looks like water is headed your way. 

Worth Pondering…

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

—Mark Twain (1835-1910)

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)

Are You Ready? The Hurricane Season is Just Starting

The tropics are heating back up

Will Grace top Elsa as the headliner storm of the season, even though Elsa was more than a month ago when the tropics were just beginning to stir?

As the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred degenerated into a tropical wave and its path swung further west into the Gulf of Mexico this past Saturday (August 14, 2021), Southwest Florida already had its eyes set on a new threat. The overnight formation of Tropical Storm Grace marked the second storm in a week the area has to monitor. The storm could make landfall in Florida by the end of the week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Amelia Island, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

August is when the tropics typically fire up. But we aren’t there just yet. Dr. William “Bill” Gray (1929-2016), regarded as a pioneer in the science of hurricane forecasting, would literally ring a bell on August 20 to announce the real start of hurricane season. That’s several days out.

There is definitely something that “clicks” in late August allowing for tropical systems to shift from mostly rainmakers (in some cases, these are still catastrophic) to extreme wind makers. Wind damage and deaths due to storm surge could jump dramatically in the weeks ahead.

Cedar Creek, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s the good news: Fred was not one of those storms (and at the time of writing it’s too early to know about Grace). And that’s actually a little bit surprising considering that storm names beginning with the letter “F” are the second most likely names to be retired, meaning they were particularly deadly or destructive.

Here’s a breakdown of retired hurricane names categorized by the letter:

Letter of the alphabet             Number of retired storm names

A                                 7

Agnes, Alicia, Allen, Allison, Andrew, Anita, Audrey

Crystal River, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

B                                 3

Betsy, Beulah, Bob

C                                 9

Camille, Carla, Carmen, Carol, Celia, Cesar, Charley, Cleo, Connie

D                                 8

David, Dean, Dennis, Diana, Diane, Donna, Dora, Dorian

E                                  5

Edna, Elena, Eloise, Erika, Eta

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

F                                  9

Fabian, Felix, Fifi, Flora, Florence, Floyd, Fran, Frances, Frederic

G                                 5

Georges, Gilbert, Gloria, Greta, Gustav

H                                 6

Harvey, Hattie, Hazel, Hilda, Hortense, Hugo

I                                   12

Igor, Ike, Inez, Ingrid, Ione, Iota, Irene, Iris, Irma, Isabel, Isisdore, Ivan

Venice, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

J                                  5

Janet, Jeanne, Joan, Joaquin, Juan

K                                 3

Katrina, Keith, Klaus

L                                  4

Laura, Lenny, Lili, Luis

M                                6

Maria, Marilyn, Matthew, Michael, Michelle, Mitch

Rockport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

N                                 2

Nate, Noel

O                                 2

Opal, Otto

P                                  1

Paloma

Rockport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

R                                 2

Rita, Roxanne

S                                  2

Sandy, Stan

T                                  1

Tomas

W                                1

Wilma

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No, that’s not a typo. Believe it or not, the letter “I” is responsible for the most retired hurricane names. According to the Weather Authority at News 4 JAX, the best guess this year is that we’ll see the “I” storm sometime shortly after Labor Day. That would be near the peak of hurricane season which is September 10.

Ida will be this year’s “I” storm.

But which storm will be this year’s strongest? Possibly, Julian. It doesn’t sound particularly intimidating (none of them does, really), but that’s as good a guess as any. And again, that’s purely a guess.

The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park, Texas stood firm during Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017). Your RV would not be this fortunate. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dr. Klotzbach, the lead CSU forecaster, recently updated his seasonal hurricane forecast. He’s now expecting us to see four major hurricanes. In other words, the weeks ahead are likely to be very challenging for many people.

Worth Pondering…

Hurricane season brings a humbling reminder that, despite our technologies, most of nature remains unpredictable.

—Diane Ackerman

HURRICANE 2021 SURVIVAL GUIDE: STAYING SAFE IN YOUR RV

Storm season is here! Are You Ready?

Believe it or not, June is already winding down. And while I’m sure there’s plenty of excitement left in the month (especially with hurricane season officially underway), now’s a great time to reflect on what an amazing month we’re having. As you know, it’s the time of year when spring really starts to look like summer.

It always throws people off when it’s the eve of the Atlantic hurricane season. No, not during hurricane season—not unless a hurricane comes within 1,000 miles, anyway!

Fortunately this was not a major storm approaching Capitol City RV Park in Montgomery, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I thought it might be nice to start off with some good news. Of course, that statement is a “no brainer” since the 2020 Hurricane Season was the most active in modern times (since 1851). There were 30 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and seven major hurricanes. Boom! Actually, the past decade has been off the charts in terms of activity. There have been on average 17 named storms each year making the past decade the busiest on record. It has also been the busiest 30 years on record as well with two years, 2020 and 2005, both having record seasons. Those two seasons combined for nearly 60 named storms and 14 major hurricanes. For perspective, there have been decades when the total number of storms was under 90. During the 1910s-1920s there were only 60 named storms over a 10-year period. As recently as 1992, there were only 91 storms over a 10-year period.

Rokport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now, the bad news! Despite no La Niña, this will still be an active hurricane season. It just won’t be a super season!

With hurricane season upon us, it’s important to know the ins and outs of RV safety—when to ride out a tropical storm and when it’s time to head out of Dodge to a safer locale. Motorhomes and travel trailers are ideal ‘survival’ vehicles during natural disasters. When faced with a possible hurricane, your recreational vehicle can transport you, your loved ones, and your home to a safer place.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s what you need to know

Hurricane season is no joke. The devastating power of these twisting tropical storms is humbling—and it can change your life, or even end it, in a second. That’s why folks who live near the coastal areas most vulnerable to hurricanes carefully track each storm over the course of the season, even the small ones. It might just end up being a tropical depression that spins off harmlessly into the ocean but you just can’t be too careful when dealing with nature’s fury.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, that goes double, if not triple, for those of us who live or travel in a recreational vehicle. We’ll cut right to the chase: no matter what kind of rig you call home, an RV is not a safe place to ride out a hurricane. In fact, even tropical storms and smaller thunderstorms can cause serious and life-threatening damage to your home-on-wheels.

Nature’s fury has a knack of catching you off-guard; hurricanes are no exceptions. Hurricanes pack enough punch to destroy everything in their wake and in those times it is best to be prepared for an immediate evacuation. Tropical storms and hurricanes are unpredictable to a large extent and must not be treated lightly. Your RV can become your best friend and your ticket to safety if you take certain safety measures for yourself and your vehicle.

Rokport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you’re traveling by RV, the weather takes on a whole new level of importance. Motorhomes and travel trailers are not safe places to take shelter during extreme weather events which means it’s critical to stay up to date and alert about changing weather patterns and potentially severe weather warnings in your area. It’s not melodramatic to say that your life and the lives of your family could hang in the balance.

The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park, Texas stood firm during Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017). Your RV would not be this fortunate. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fortunately, the same feature that makes RVs an unsafe place to weather a storm makes it relatively easy to avoid bad weather in the first place: they’re on wheels! Evacuation is the key to surviving a hurricane in an RV. It may actually take days to reach a safe destination. In addition, the path of the storm may change requiring you to change directions.

Don’t wait too long and get stuck in heavy traffic with last-minute, mandatory evacuees. As soon as you know a hurricane is likely to come your way, load up your RV and head out before the Interstate becomes a virtual parking lot.

Rokport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Prepare an emergency kit by stocking your RV with items such as water, non-perishable foods, and prescription medications. Before the storm, fill your vehicle with fuel and check the windshield wipers and tires. Place your RV and house insurance documents, vehicle registration, title, passport, and other important documents in a waterproof bag and keep them with you.

Keep handy items such as tarps, flashlights and extra batteries, candles and extra lighters or waterproof matches, disposable garbage bags, NOAA Weather Radio, first aid kit, and a toolkit ready at all times.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to News4Jax Insider, your first aid kit should include sterile adhesive bandages, sterile gauze pads, hypoallergenic adhesive tape, triangular bandages (3), sterile roller bandages, antibiotic ointment, scissors, tweezers, needle, moistened towelettes, antiseptic, thermometer, tongue blades (2), a tube of petroleum jelly or another lubricant, assorted sizes of safety pins, cleansing agent/soap, latex gloves (2 pairs), sunscreen, bug repellent, Tylenol or other pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center) and laxatives, activated charcoal (if advised by the Poison Control Center), bottled water and additional sterilizing liquids (alcohol and acetone).

Stay safe out there! Remember, run from the water and hide from the wind.

Worth Pondering…

In reality, you don’t ever change the hurricane. You just learn how to stay out of its path.     

—Jodi Picoult

Hurricane Season: Staying Safe in your RV

Your safety and the safety of your family is most important, so develop a hurricane preparedness plan before a hurricane strikes

Stormy conditions appear to be on the horizon for the 2020 hurricane season with government forecasters announcing the possibility of an “extremely active” period. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in its pre-season outlook there’s a 60 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season which officially starts June 1 and runs until November 30.

Rokport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

NOAA forecasters are calling for 13 to 19 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher; of those, six to 10 could become hurricanes. Among those hurricanes, three to six will be major, classified as Category 3, 4, and 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher.

Rokport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With hurricane season officially upon us, it’s important to know the ins and outs of RV safety—when to ride out a tropical storm and when it’s time to head out of Dodge to a safer locale. Motorhomes and travel trailers are ideal ‘survival’ vehicles during natural disasters. When faced with a possible hurricane, your recreational vehicle can transport you, your loved ones, and your home to a safer place.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s what you need to know.

Hurricane season is no joke. The devastating power of these twisting tropical storms is humbling—and it can change your life, or even end it, in a second. That’s why folks who live near the coastal areas most vulnerable to hurricanes carefully track each storm over the course of the season, even the small ones. It might just end up being a tropical depression that spins off harmlessly into the ocean… but you just can’t be too careful when dealing with nature’s fury.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, that goes double, if not triple, for those of us who live or travel in a recreational vehicle. We’ll cut right to the chase: no matter what kind of rig you call home, an RV is not a safe place to ride out a hurricane. In fact, even tropical storms and smaller thunderstorms can cause serious and life-threatening damage to your home-on-wheels.

The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park, Texas stood firm during Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017). Your RV would not be this fortunate. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nature’s fury has a knack of catching you off-guard; hurricanes are no exceptions. Hurricanes pack enough punch to destroy everything in their wake and in those times it is best to be prepared for an immediate evacuation. Tropical storms and hurricanes are unpredictable to a large extent and must not be treated lightly. Your RV can become your best friend and your ticket to safety if you take certain safety measures for yourself and your vehicle.

Fortunately this was not a major storm approaching Capitol City RV Park in Montgomery, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you’re traveling by RV, the weather takes on a whole new level of importance. Motorhomes and travel trailers are not safe places to take shelter during extreme weather events which means it’s critical to stay up to date and alert about changing weather patterns and potential severe weather warnings in your area. It’s not melodramatic to say that your life and the lives of your family could hang in the balance.

Sunrise RV Park in Texarkana, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fortunately, the same feature that makes RVs an unsafe place to weather a storm makes it relatively easy to avoid bad weather in the first place: they’re on wheels! Evacuation is the key to surviving a hurricane in an RV. It may actually take days to reach a safe destination. In addition, the path of the storm may change requiring you to change directions.

Eagles Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t wait too long and get stuck in heavy traffic with last minute, mandatory evacuees. As soon as you know a hurricane is likely to come your way, load up your RV and head out before the Interstate becomes a virtual parking lot.

Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Prepare an emergency kit by stocking your RV with items such as water, non-perishable foods, and prescription medications. Before the storm, fill your vehicle with fuel and check the windshield wipers and tires. Place your RV and house insurance documents, vehicle registration, title, passport, and other important documents in a waterproof bag and keep them with you.

Buckhorn RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep handy items such as tarps, flashlights and extra batteries, candles and extra lighters or waterproof matches, disposable garbage bags, NOAA Weather Radio, first aid kit, and a toolkit ready at all times.

Stay safe out there!

Worth Pondering…

In reality, you don’t ever change the hurricane. You just learn how to stay out of its path.     

—Jodi Picoult