Severe weather is usually something you want to avoid, regardless of where you are. But what if you encounter bad weather in a RV?
When you can’t avoid it, you need to be prepared, regardless of where you are. When you’re home is on wheels, you start to think of severe weather differently.
Can you survive a tornado in an RV?
We were about 25 miles southeast of Naples boondocking at Picayune Strand State Forest just south of Alligator Alley. We were awoken at 4:00AM one morning to our phones going off like crazy. Looking out the windows of the bedroom, the night sky was flashing like a strobe light. We had never seen anything like it. The radar showed a red bank of weather hitting Naples. A tornado was confirmed to have touched down just north of Alligator Alley.
There was nowhere for us to go. There were no solid structures at Picayune Strand. We couldn’t drive anywhere because the only way we could go was north, which would just put us more into the storm. South of us was just more Everglades and swamps.
We pretty much just crossed our fingers and went back to sleep, awaking only once more when the rain got really heavy and loud on the fifthwheel roof.
In the morning, there were a few puddles of water, but the tornadoes had missed us by miles. Phew! I really think we were protected by the mangroves and Everglades to the southwest of us.
Shortly after this experience, major storms hit Louisiana, and went right through Sugar Hill RV Park in Convent, Louisiana, about 50 miles west of New Orleans. The destruction was so sad to see. RVs were overturned and smashed like toys. Two people were confirmed dead in the incident, 30 injured, with 100+ structures destroyed.
What To Do You’re Hit by a Tornado in a RV?
While we were safe and sound, our close call served as a good mental exercise of what we should do if we can or can’t get away from severe weather while on this RV adventure. In hindsight, what we did was just short of reckless.
- If we CAN get away with the fifth wheel in time, we would pack up, hook up, and drive away from the weather. This would be if we had days or hours before the storm hit. However, if the winds are already really bad, we do not want to be towing the fifthwheel down the road, and we would need to be cautious of flooded areas or downed trees along our escape route.
- If we CAN’T get away with the fifth wheel before the weather hits, we would put the fifth wheel’s slides in, point it into the wind, pack our essentials and the dogs in the truck, and drive just the truck to the nearest storm shelter.
- If we CAN’T get away, and no storm shelter is around (like in Picayune), we would pack into the truck, and sit there with our seat belts on.
Overall, your safety comes first. Hopefully, you RV is insured, so if anything terrible happened to it you should be okay. The important thing is getting yourselves to shelter.
Be Prepared for Bad Weather in an RV
- If you don’t have an escape plan, make one. Be sure you know your emergency exits in the RV.
- Make a list of what you would need to bring with you. If you can, pack these things in a “go” bag that can be grabbed at a moment’s notice. (flashlights, rain ponchos, emergency blankets, water bottles, granola bars, phone chargers, first aid kit, etc.)
- Stay informed. Understand where you can get your reliable weather information from (i.e. a weather app, a website, radio station) and where tornado activity occurs (USTornados.com). Same goes for hurricanes. Learn how to understand radar maps.
- Follow all evacuation orders. Don’t wait until the last minute to move. You’re house is on wheels – but you still need time to get away, and chances are so are a lot of people. Leave sooner than later.
Hope this helps you prepare for severe weather in your RV! Stay safe, and remember that your life is worth way more than your RV or any of your possessions.
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