There’s nothing like exploring the back roads independently in your RV. Because of this you oftentimes find yourself at a new destination every day. The risk is that weather changes too, sometimes in an instant, and not all RVers pay attention to weather conditions when traveling or spending the night. RV’s are great, but they are not safe in severe weather, like lightning and thunderstorms with high winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
This Spring season, awareness is key. You can avoid danger by practicing situational awareness, heeding weather alerts so you are clear of an area before a problem exists. Consider a few of these tips to help keep your rig safe as you’re traveling through various and changing weather conditions.
When you travel hundreds of miles a day in your RV, weather conditions can change several times. When you stop for the night — boondocking, staying in a parking lot or campground — all you want to do is get set up quickly and get some rest. The weather is the last thing on your mind. The problem with this is severe weather can occur without much warning, and if you are caught in it, it can be disastrous.
So what’s the plan? Plan is the important word here. RVers need to have an emergency weather plan in case of a severe storm. To start with, the more you know about the weather around you the more you can react.
Have you ever heard of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio App? The NOAA Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service Office, and you can now access it from your smartphone.
They broadcast National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day. Alerts inform people if they need to take some type of action in order to protect themselves, such as “seeking shelter” or “to evacuate an area immediately”
What does this mean to RVers? It means for only $4.99 you can monitor potentially severe conditions wherever you are with up-to-date and accurate information. The app includes radar maps and you can listen to over 200+ NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards Broadcasts to get the latest Warnings, Watches, Advisories, Forecasts, and other hazards 24 hours a day from the National Weather Service. Learn more here.
Every RVer should have some way to monitor weather warnings in real-time.
Another helpful tool is the Drive Weather app, which functions similarly to the Weather Radio app in that it provides travelers with updates about weather conditions in their area. Drive Weather offers a free basic version that includes the features below, but for an ad-free option with additional features, you’ll have to pay for the Pro version. The free features include:
• Weather – Rain, Snow, Fog, Freezing Rain, Tornados, Thunderstorms, Hail, Smoke, & Haze
• Animated Radar
• Cloud Cover Forecast
• Time Tweaker for Truckers and RVers
• Up to 2 days of the weather forecast.
• Limited Trip Length
• Area Weather for general weather
• Exceptionally cool animated waiting screens
How to Prepare
We’ve created a short checklist you can use to help prepare for emergency weather planning when you are traveling in your RV. You can add to, or take away from this list to tailor it to your specific needs.
- The first step to our emergency weather plan is to get a weather radio app if you don’t already have one, and to always monitor it when you use your RV.
- The next step is to develop an emergency evacuation plan, to use in the event of severe weather. When you arrive at a campground, ask at the check-in desk about an emergency plan in case of a severe storm such as a tornado, a thunderstorm with high winds, or flash flooding. If they don’t have a plan you need to make your own.
- Locate a structure that is safer than your RV, like a bathhouse or the campground office. Always stay on the lowest level possible and away from doors and windows.
- Brief everybody with you on the emergency plan. Explain to children how to respond to different disasters and the dangers of severe weather, fires, and other emergencies. Instruct children on emergency exits and instruct them on how and when to call 911.
- Make sure everybody in your party is aware of the situation in the case of severe weather.
- Monitor the weather radio for emergency information. Emergency weather watches and warnings are for counties and towns, so always check a map for the county or town where you are staying.
- Have an emergency supply kit made up and easily accessible. The kit should contain flashlights, batteries, rain ponchos, bug spray, a portable weather radio, a first aid kit, non-perishable packaged or canned food, a manual can opener, blankets, prescription and non-prescription drugs, pet supplies, bottled water and any special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.
Below are a few other resources to consider as you prep for ways to handle ever-changing weather this Spring:
- To learn more about how to prepare for and react to different types of severe weather take a moment to visit http://www.nws.noaa.gov/.
- Mobility can be your greatest advantage. Learn more here about relocating your RV to a safer spot, planning an escape route, being prepared to relocate, and being weather aware.
- Weather events can cause structural and cosmetic damage to your RV. Personal safety is priority one, and maintaining your RV’s value comes next. Ensure you have an RV insurance plan that would cover potential damage related to the weather you face on the road. Learn more about RV insurance with our comprehensive guide found here.
Remember, RV’s are not safe in severe weather. This includes severe thunderstorms with high winds, flooding roads, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Always be prepared for bad weather by staying informed. So learn about the different types of weather hazards, download an app or two to try out if you haven’t already, and create a plan with your family and practice and maintain the plan.
I agree with Bobby. You need to know what county you are in and what larger cities you are near. Rarely is this on the papers RV parks give you. If it is stormy, you should have a map of the area out so you can see where the alerts are. I wish more RV parks would have the needed info available and where the storm shelters are.
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I have my first (new to me mini motor home RV) and I live in Fl. How do I prepare it for a hurricane? Strap it down, cover windows ? I work and can not always leave.
Fred Brandeberry, SR
We were in northern Alabama several years ago, we had Ham Radio, Weather radio, FM radio and the National Weather Channel on our tv and did not detect the twister that ran along the ridge above our campground.
The only communication we found that broadcast this treat was LOCAL TV.
A great article! One thing that I think most RVr’s over look is what county are they in.
Most of the time we know what major city we are close to but NOAA puts the warning and watches out for counties. I don’t have a GPS (yet). I still do things the old fashion way with folding maps (free at most welcome centers) and a good road atlas but still finding the county name amonst all of the other information on a map can sometimes be a chore.
What can you do when there is no safe place nearby? 2 weeks ago we had stopped over night at a friends wooded lot in the country. our NOAA radio put out a tornado warning – there was wind, lightning and rain at the time. there were no ditches or safe building only tall trees which were same as lightning rods. we could have hooked up and left, but not sure where to go. finally just said a prayer and stayed put. fortunately no tornado developed and all was well.
Patrick W. Tribbey
As I’ve stated on one of the other blogs: Safety is paramount AT ALL TIMES! However, after reading the above, what does one do when awakened in the middle of a storm with plenty of lightening, hail, rain, etc., and unable to get to a more secure place? (Office, etc.). I have a MIDLANDS Weather Alert radio in the MBR at home, and a portable, (battery/120 V), AM/FM/Weather Band radio in our ‘tag-along’ camper. Plus, whenever possible, I try to find the lastest weather conditions on “The Weather Channel” or local TV station wherever we may be. The movie “TWISTER” is a good example of what can happen. BTW, in that movie, Wakita, Oklahoma is an actual town—–used to live about 15-20 miles from it when I was a kid. 🙂
Everyone please stay safe—no matter what the weather! 🙂
I know this sounds a little strange but…. If I were you I would mount a outside (all weather) speaker which is attached to the WX radio… that way you and allow everyone to hear the emergency broadcast… and even if you have to abandon the RV it will still be on and heard right up to the end…
However, just as we found in the movie “TWISTER” if the TV goes blank…(Don’t know if it will work on the new HDTV’s as they end up going quiet and saying….loss of signal) starts making a buzzing sound and your around the tornadio alley… I wouldn’t wait to hear the WX radio broadcast… seek shelter…
A set of FRS , ham…. hand held radios might also be on the agenda… so you can stay in commucations with the family … no matter where they are… Cell phones work… sometimes.. but locally the hand held radio seem to be the ticket…
Lots to think about here… for safety sake. but not to overdo it… because if you have all this check list… you won’t have time to enjoy why you came… 🙂