High-profile vehicles like trucks, tractor-trailers, and RV’s are at increased risk for accidents and rollovers in strong winds.
To that point, many state and local weather services will issue high wind warnings specifically for high profile vehicles.
In an extreme situation, driving your RV against the recommendations can be a truly dangerous proposition.
If this sounds like a scenario you are faced with, then you might be wondering much wind your RV can withstand?
While it can vary depending on the size, and aerodynamics of your RV, a sustained 30 mile per hour wind can make it hazardous to drive most RVs at highway speeds. While a parked RV can handle more, you should still consider taking protective measures if the area you are camped at is forecasted to experience wind gusts of 50 miles per hour or more.
If the state or local weather service has issued a strong wind warning for high profile vehicles and you have a Class A, Class C Motorhome, or a large fifth-wheel trailer, then the smart money is to stay put.
It’s simply not worth risking your life, the lives of other motorists, and potentially catastrophic damage to your RV investment by driving in dangerously windy conditions.
Though there are certain scenarios where the winds might be blowing strongly, yet the local weather authorities haven’t issued a warning.
At the same time, smaller RV’s like popup campers, and aerodynamic teardrop campers aren’t as vulnerable as their big brother motorhomes and broadsided trailers.
To truly understand just how much wind your RV can withstand, we will have to take a closer look at the factors that can increase the dangers of driving in the wind.
This includes things like the RV’s size, weight distribution, and aerodynamic factors.
Then we will also take a look at things you can do if high winds strike when you are on the move and simply don’t have any feasible way to get safely off the road.
The Dangers Of Driving An RV In High Winds
High winds are generally thought of being sustained winds of more than 30 miles per hour or gusts that can get up to 50 miles per hour.
In these conditions, your RV can be at severe risk of being dangerous to drive. Especially if a straight line wind hits a high profile RV broadside.
These scenarios can push you dangerously out of your own lane, or into a ditch. In a severe situation, it could even flip a large, top-heavy RV like a Class A or Class C motorhome.
Of course, driving with the wind hitting your RV on the passenger or driver’s side is the most dangerous.
Though even a strong nose or tailwind can have a severe negative effect on how your RV handles.
Even if you can keep the RV in between the lines going straight into the wind, you could be at severe risk of a rollover if the road curves.
Winds Are Less Dangerous When Parked Or Camping
In general, and RV can handle significantly more wind when parked in a parking lot or at a campsite, as there is no contributing momentum from traveling as you get on the road.
When properly parked up even a high-profile Class A motorhome can handle straight-line winds up to 80 miles per hour without flipping over. Though it still might be a rocky night for the occupants.
Tips For Driving An RV In High Winds
Let’s say that a strong wind event or storm catches you by surprise when you are on the road.
This is understandable if you are in the middle of a long drive from Point A to Point B and you simply aren’t able to keep up with the local forecasts.
It is especially likely to be an issue if you are crossing a mountain range or going through a mountain pass where one side can have drastically different weather from the other.
If you happen to find yourself in a situation where it’s just not feasible to get off the road in strong winds, or you are very close to your destination when windy conditions strike there are a few techniques that will reduce your chances of suffering a problem.
1. Keep Both Hands On The Steering Wheel
Wind gusts and changes in the road can have a sudden, profound effect on how the RV handles. So, keep both hands commandingly on the wheel at all times.
If your RV, motorhome, or pickup truck has manual steering, try to drive with your thumbs outside the wheel. That way if it does suddenly jerk, you won’t hurt your hands.
2. Avoid Cruise Control
There are times when you are driving in windy conditions where you may need to speed up or slow down to deal with the changes in terrain and how they affect the wind.
Cruise control can’t compensate for these things in time. So, while it might be a little tiring on your foot, leave the cruise control off when driving your RV in windy conditions.
3. Stay Aware Of The Wind Direction
The direction of the wind will influence the way you need to compensate for your steering.
It’s all too easy to get used to simply holding the steering wheel biased to one side or the other. Then a sudden curve in the road can cause you to overcompensate disastrously.
4. The Slow Lane Is Your Friend
The faster you are going the more likely the wind is to affect your RV. So, if you must travel in high winds, stick to the slow lane and if possible, drive at the minimum speed limit for that particular stretch of road.
5. Expect Changes In Fuel Consumption
If you are experiencing a significant head or tailwind it can have a dramatic impact on your RV’s fuel efficiency.
A strong headwind will cause you to burn more fuel and is more likely to affect your steering if the road takes a sudden curve.
6. Merge With Care
Merging onto or off the highway with an RV can be perilous in windy conditions.
Make sure to reduce your speed gradually and avoid sudden stops, to reduce the risk of high winds jack-knifing a trailer or leaning a motorhome into a potential rollover.
7. Pay Attention To Surrounding Traffic
Big rigs and other high profile vehicles can create major drafts that can add to the effect strong winds have on your RV.
At the same time, strong wind gusts that hit your RV broadside can also push you into another lane. Avoid traveling for too long with another vehicle beside you if possible.
8. Be Careful Opening & Closing Doors
You need to make a fuel or bathroom stop, take great care opening and closing the RV’s doors. The wind can easily catch them and damaged hinges.
9. Fill Your Water Tanks
The more weight you have in the lower part of your RV, the harder it will be to roll.
So, while it might be hard on your RV’s miles per gallon, a full fresh water tank will help prevent a possible rollover event when driving or being parked up in straight-line winds.
10. Travel With All Your Emergency Documents
if your RV has roadside assistance or your insurance has wind damage covered in the fine print, then you want to be able to present those documents to the powers that be in a time of crisis.
Tips For Being Prepared For Driving An RV In Windy Conditions
Like a lot of things, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
There are a few things you can do to stay ahead of drastic weather changes and to help you be prepared for camping or driving your RV in windy conditions.
1. Set Up Weather Alerts
These days smartphone apps and GPS technology work well together.
Chances are you can find an app that is connected to the National Weather Service or a similar institution.
The app will then use your GPS location to send updated alerts to your phone.
2. Always Check The Weather Each Night Or Morning
if you are going to be traveling, make it a daily habit to check the weather each night at supper time and again in the morning before setting off.
Try to watch an actual forecast video, instead of just looking at the text description of the forecast. This will give you a better idea of how the weather will progress throughout the day.
Parking Or Camping Safely With An RV In Windy Weather
There’s no doubt about it, an RV is safer in windy conditions when parked or set up at camp.
Though there are still some things you can do to help reduce the impact of the wind when taking shelter on the road or setting up camp with windy weather in the coming forecast.
1. Park Or Set Up Camp To Avoid Broadside Wind
Whether you are taking shelter on your way from Point A to Point B, or setting up camp with strong winds in the forecast you want to avoid parking up with the wind at the RV’s broadside.
Head-on is alright in a tight spot, but in a strong storm, you risk damage to the windshield. Ideally, you want to park the RV with the rear to the wind.
2. Park With A Structure Between The RV & The Oncoming Wind
if possible you want to park with a building or a copse of sturdy trees between the broadside of your RV and the oncoming wind. This will help buffer the effect of any straight-line winds.
3. Lookout For Overhead Dangers
If you are parking near a building or a copse of trees lookout for power poles, power lines, and tree hazards.
The last thing you want is to park near some trees for shelter, only to have a widowmaker dead branch crush the roof of your RV in high winds.
4. Batten Down The Hatches
As the term implies, you want to police up any loose items around camp and put them in storage compartments.
In a pinch, you can stow them under the RV to keep them out of the wind and possible falling debris.
5. Retract The Awning
This might sound overly simple, but it’s all too easy to forget about the awning when you are policing up the camp and battening down the hatches before a big wind storm.
The last thing you want is to see your RV’s awning rip or collapse in strong winds, after making your best effort to secure your campsite.
If you will be away from camp and there is a risk of wind that day, you should retract the awning before you leave.
6. Retract Slide Outs
If the forecast is calling for straight-line winds or damaging winds of over 30 miles per hour, you should retract your slide outs.
This will prevent direct damage, and also keep debris from jamming up the mechanical components of your RV’s power-retractable slide outs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does RV Insurance Cover Wind Damage?
This can vary from policy to policy. You are more likely to have wind damage covered if you have comprehensive coverage on a financed vehicle.
So, double-check with your RV insurance provider and make sure to see if your awning is also covered by wind damage.
Where Can I Park My RV To Stay Out Of High Winds?
Let’s say that you are on the road and a high wind warning or major storm event has you looking for a place to hideout.
While a lot of businesses and gas stations might be fine with you hiding out in your RV for an hour or two, most aren’t going to be happy offering shelter for a day or so in a prolonged wind storm.
In a time like this, you can hide out from a strong wind storm at a truck stop, or a Walmart parking lot.
These are two of the more popular places that are happy to accommodate the needs of RV travelers.
Camping or driving an RV in strong winds can certainly be challenging. Being cautious and pulling your RV off the road when a high wind warning is issued for high profile vehicles is certainly wise.
Taking shelter to prevent broadside winds from hitting your RV will also help.
Staying aware by setting up weather alerts and watching the local weather forecasts each night and morning will also help keep you ahead of the curve.
If you are going to be leaving camp to tour local attractions, you might want to take precautions against any forecasted wind.
When camping in high winds, make sure to batten down the hatches. Make sure your jacks are on level ground, your awning is protected, and your slide-outs are retracted.
While camping or driving an RV can be challenging, with some mindful preparations and techniques, it doesn’t have to be disastrous.