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How to RV in the Wind: A Survival Guide

How to RV in the Wind: A Survival Guide

Wind may be your best friend when trying to fly a kite, but it’s the opposite when RVing. High winds can make for stressful travel days and even cause damage to your RV while camping. Because high winds often appear with little notice, you must know how much wind your RV and awning can withstand. You never know when they might start blowing during your adventures. Today, we’ll answer how to secure a travel trailer in high winds and other important questions. Let’s dive in!

Our Least-Favorite Weather for RV Camping & Driving: Wind

We have been RVing in practically every type of weather situation imaginable. While a rainy day or chilly temperatures can be frustrating, they’re nowhere near as awful as wind. These inclement conditions would win an award for our least-favorite type of RVing weather.

Driving an RV in High Winds - Avoid an RV Accident | Mondays with the Mortons

High winds can make it extremely difficult and stressful to tow your RV. Wind gusts can push the largest rigs from one side of the highway to the other. It can cause extreme stress for the driver and danger for everyone on the road. Getting blown around the road can cause a serious accident.

Pro Tip: Wind is just one of the many road dangers RVers face. Discover the 5 Most Common Causes of RV Accidents (and How to Avoid Them).

High winds can ruin your trip even if you’ve already set up camp. Sudden gusts can destroy RV awnings and slide covers in seconds. When awnings break, they can cause further damage as they flap in the wind. Damages to the side or roof of an RV are rather common from high winds.

If you plan to weather these gusts inside your RV, good luck. Strong gales can cause a tremendous amount of movement inside the largest of RVs. It doesn’t take much to rock an RV from side to side. You might feel like the rig could blow over if the winds get strong enough. So how much wind can an RV withstand?

How Much Wind Can an RV Withstand?

Whether you’ve been towing RVs or other trailers, towing in high winds isn’t a fun experience. If you’re new to towing, you’ll likely want to pull over anytime you experience consistent 30-mile-per-hour winds.

More experienced drivers may push it to 40 mph. However, you should never drive or tow an RV when winds exceed 50 mph. An RV traveling in high winds could easily blow over.

travel trailer in high winds
High winds pose a serious threat to RVs.

An RV parked at a campsite can typically withstand 75 mph winds before tipping over. However, gusts as low as 20 mph can damage an RV’s awning or slide covers. If you expect high winds while RVing, you may consider positioning your RV near a wind block or in a way that neither of the broadsides will take a direct hit.

How Strong of a Wind Does It Take to Flip an RV?

Due to their less than aerodynamic shape, it’s not uncommon to see RVs flip over during extremely high winds. One location in St. Peters, Mo., has had a couple of major incidents where RVs have blown over while parked. Although, winds typically have to reach 75 mph to flip a parked RV.

However, the winds don’t need to be nearly as high when driving. The momentum from a moving RV can increase the likelihood of flipping. It’s not uncommon to see motorhomes and other large vehicles flip when driving in 50 mph gusts. If you experience sustained winds at these speeds, find a safe place to park until they subside.

Can an RV Withstand a Hurricane?

An RV can withstand a hurricane in some instances. However, we don’t recommend taking chances. Manufacturers don’t design RVs to withstand the constant excessive winds of major storms. Experiencing a hurricane in an RV can be a nightmare.

travel trailer destroyed after tornado
RVs aren’t designed to withstand severe storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

One of the great things about RVs is that they’re on wheels, so you can move them. Hurricanes, unlike tornadoes, don’t appear out of thin air. Meteorologists track them for a week or more to give plenty of warning to any individuals in the storm’s path. If you plan to RV along the coast during hurricane season, you’ll have plenty of time to evacuate. Find a safe place to weather the storm.

If you plan to RV long-term in a hurricane area like Florida, you may also be subject to additional measures to secure your RV to the ground. This includes possible tie-downs into the ground or cement or shutters for your RV windows.

Is It Safe to Be in an RV During a Lightning Storm?

Lightning is extremely dangerous and not something you should take lightly. Find the safest place possible during a lightning storm. Lighting sticking an RV is extremely unlikely, as most RVs sit on rubber tires and are not well-grounded. However, if plugged in or with jacks down a ground path potential exists.

Most RVs have metal frames that will likely conduct a strike around the outside and would be a minimal electrocution threat but could start a fire. The general rule of thumb with lightning is to try not to be the tallest thing around in the first place, so bringing down a flag pole or cell booster pole before the storm may increase safety.

RV in lightening storm
RVs are not impervious to lightning strikes.

If you experience a severe lightning storm and are worried, jumping into your tow vehicle would be better. If one of these trailers got struck by lightning, a fire could break out and spread throughout the entire rig. RVs burn incredibly quickly, and you don’t want to get stuck inside trying to escape if lightning strikes.

How Do I Secure My Travel Trailer in High Winds?

You can do a few things to secure your travel trailer in the case of high winds. First, change your RV’s position. You want the front cap of your RV to face the direction of the wind. This will help avoid any potential issues with crosswinds and minimize the movement you feel inside during the storm.

Whether you can adjust the position of your RV or not, many RVers will hitch up their RVs to the tow vehicle and bring in their slide-outs. This will help make your RV more aerodynamic. Moving somewhere that provides any sort of wind block also helps: a sturdy treeline, a building, or even other campers. Just be aware of parking in the path of any dead trees, branches, or other environmental threats.

Another tactic you can use is to fill up your fresh water tank to add weight. Depending on the size of your fresh water tank, you can add several hundred pounds to your RV. If you’re worried about tipping over, you’ll want to add as much weight as possible.

Some campgrounds that frequently experience excessive winds will have tie-down straps. These straps will help secure a travel trailer to the ground and reduce the chances of any major issues from high winds. If you have them available, make sure you use them.

10 Tips and Tricks for RV Camping in High Winds

How Windy Is Too Windy for RV Awning and Slide Toppers?

You should never leave your RV awning out when not actively using it. Strong winds over 20 mph can come without notice and easily rip your awning. You can purchase tie-down straps that will secure and help reduce the chances of damaging it, but high winds are no match for awnings. Not to mention, the flapping is very loud and annoying.

The best practice is to retract your awning when done using it, and never leave it out when you leave your campsite.

Pro Tip: If your awning gets damaged by wind, learn How to Easily DIY Repair an RV Awning.

Slide toppers can help protect your slides. Many RVers have spent thousands of dollars to install slide toppers on their rig, only to have them ripped off during an intense wind storm. To solve this problem, bring in your slides when the winds get out of hand. Many RVers will stuff beach balls and other items into the space between the cover and slide-out to prevent it from flapping in the wind.

Are You Prepared to Camp in the Wind?

Don’t let a little wind stop you from having a great time making memories with your loved ones. However, you should never sacrifice safety for you or your fellow campers. High winds can be hazardous and appear out of nowhere. 

Keep an eye on the weather, especially when camping in areas that have a reputation for having high winds. We want you and your loved ones to be safe while camping and traveling. Remember these safety tips to have many more adventures in the future. And when in doubt, find a safe place to park and take extra caution.

fifth wheel RV damage after high winds

Wind and rain often accompany each other, posing a dual threat to your camper. Find out why The Biggest Downfall to RVs Is Water Damage.

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Phil Ruffin

Thursday 23rd of June 2022

"...but high winds are no match for awnings." I think you meant that the other way around.

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