If you “chase 70”, as we do, you’ll often find yourself in the path of extreme weather as the seasons change, especially in the Midwest and South. Chasing 70 means that you travel to areas of the country during the times of the year you’re most likely to encounter an average 70 degree temperature. This strategy makes it much easier to heat and cool your rig. It also provides a much more pleasant outdoor experience for the traveler. Chasing 70 degrees is not quite as simple as it sounds if you don’t want to go to the same place every time. RVers tend to look for or create maps like the one below. While monitoring temperatures is a good first step, there are two more parts of the equation.
Part 2 of “Chasing 70” is knowing the regions and the seasons, and how to avoid the really dangerous storms. Visiting the Midwest when the seasons change from winter to spring can be very dangerous and volatile with severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and strong winds. Visiting the south from June 1-Nov 30th can put you in the path of a hurricane. It’s very important to know the best time of the year to visit an area.
Part 3 (and the most crucial part to us) of “Chasing 70” is having appropriate monitoring equipment for when things don’t go as well as you hope. In our first year of RVing we visited two locations that had tornadoes within the first couple weeks of arriving. Thankfully, we had a weather radio and in each scenario it was the only thing that warned us a tornado was coming. People like to say that they just their weather apps, we had the weather apps at that time too, but with decreased cell signals, the weather radio was the winner every time. In Canyon Lake, TX it alerted us 18 minutes earlier than the weather apps for a nearby tornado. Tornadoes develop very quickly and leave little time for the sporadic updates on a cell phone app to catch up. It was literally the difference in time it took for us to get the animals and ourselves to shelter before the storm hit.
In other words: The major flaw with only relying on Cell Phone Weather Apps, is that they do not update frequently enough to give you the most amount of time to prepare.
Granted, these were both areas where the tornadoes were not nearly as big or as powerful as in Kansas. But at that point we didn’t know how big or how fast they were rotating, and neither will anyone else until after it has passed. In Texas and in Florida, they did not have adequate tornado shelters because they said they don’t typically experience the tornadoes we were used to experiencing in the Midwest.
Regional Weather Hazards:
While traveling it’s important to know what types of extreme weather you can experience where you are, and during that time of year. Obviously the chances of a July blizzard are pretty low. But what about a January tornado? We ran into one of those in Houston. We never thought that was possible until we were taking shelter watching the news on our phones of a tornado touching down only a mile away from us.
Here are the typical threats you can expect for each region:
- Spring/Fall: Very powerful thunderstorms that can bring Tornadoes, flooding (especially flash flooding), hail (possibly large and destructive), and high winds.
- Summer: Wildfires.
- Winter: Blizzards, ice storms.
North & Northeast: May have snow storms that can strand you in the area for days, or even a few weeks.
- Spring/Summer: Dust storms (Arizona/New Mexico) are a big threat. Also, monsoons that can be very dangerous for hikers or travelers in the washes.
- Summer: High Heat.
Pacific North West:
- Spring/Winter/Fall: Heavy rains, mudslides, and wind storms that down trees and cause catastrophic damage to properties, shelters, and especially RVs.
- Summer: Wildfires.
South & Southeast:
- Spring: Hurricanes, floods, severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes
- Winter/Fall: Severe thunderstorms that can bring tornadoes, flooding (especially flash flooding), hail (possibly large and destructive), and high winds.
- Summer: High heat.
- Winter: Extreme Cold, blizzards.
- Summer: Wildfires
This is not meant to dissuade anyone from wanting to travel, in fact seeing an epic thunderstorm or having rainy days can be very enjoyable in an RV. RVers as a population tend to be prepared to handle things on their own and the way you live is built around that principle.
How To Prepare For Severe Weather
Monitoring: Have at least one weather app, but more can be better. We actually monitor 3: Weather Underground, Windy, and NOAA. We rarely trust a forecast until two or more begin to agree. If an emergency alert is issued, we follow the recommendations. If we can tell it is coming a few days out, we decide whether we wish to stay and ride it out, or pack up and head to somewhere safer. This is the weather radio we use, but sadly they don’t make them anymore. However, there are many upgraded models now. We recommend having a handheld NOAA radio that is battery operated so you can take it in the vehicle or on foot, with you.
Wind: The number one question we see about wind is with slide toppers. In high wind scenarios, they make the RV feel like it will literally fall apart. Between the snapping of the slide toppers and the rattling as they billow and retract, it can leave you laying awake all night wondering if you will be OK.
With no obstructions to the wind, we have found that 35-50mph wind speeds and gusts require us to pull the slides in. This not only takes away the snapping and shuddering of the walls from the slide toppers, but it makes the RV rock less because you decrease the surface area for the wind to grab. We were hesitant to do this at first because we thought it would make it easier to tip the RV if the winds were broadside. We have never felt less safe pulling them in.
If you have enough time in advance, you should also point the front of your RV to directly face the wind coming in. Lastly, placing a vehicle in-between you and the oncoming wind can greatly help break it down before it slams into your RV, taking a lot of the motion out of the equation.
Water: Travel with at least ¼ tank of water. Even if you are just moving from RV park to RV park you never know what could happen en route. We feel the extra weight is worth the risk of being stranded without at least some water. If you do not use your fresh water tank often, make sure it is sanitized properly before heading out.
Cold: Keep at least one set of cold weather gear on the RV. Even though most RVers prefer to “Chase 70”, depending on the region this can fluctuate wildly at night, or even if a cold front moves in. Either way, being cold in an RV becomes very uncomfortable very quickly.
Move: Don’t be afraid to move. If weather forecasts are predicting an incoming hurricane or a really nasty storm front several days out, don’t wait until the last minute to move the rig.
We have watched the forums for the last couple of years with the monster sized incoming hurricanes and it has become some sort of pride with those choosing to stay during a hurricane. This not only puts your life in danger, but makes it more difficult for the people coming in afterwards to put the community back together. If you have the option and ability to leave, we advise you to do so.
Prepare: Know where important items are ahead of the storm and assemble them together so that you can evacuate quickly. If you have a trailer, storing things you will need in your truck at night can help you get out that much faster.
See below for what we choose to pack in the event we are caught in tornado watches. If you have time (meaning a few hours of notice), bring in slides, and outdoor items that could be damaged or blown away.
Our Top Picks for Advanced Weather Monitoring: Personal Weather Stations for RVers:
- Monitor actual weather conditions from your RV, from anywhere using your smartphone, tablet or computer.
- Includes Weather Station Display, AcuRite Access and All-in-One Weather Sensor.
- Create custom alerts to get notifications sent directly to your phone when changing conditions need your attention.
- Share your weather with friends, family, and online weather communities like Weather Underground.
- You can connect up to 7 compatible devices so multiple travelers can access the data.
- The Professional weather station allows you to monitor your RV and weather with an easy to read, color monitor.
- The enhanced Wi-Fi connectable option that enables your station to transmit its data wirelessly to the world’s largest personal weather station Network, Weather Underground.
- View your personal weather information with you on the go using your computer, tablet, or mobile device.
- The weather station measures wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, outdoor temperature and humidity, solar radiation and UV.
- Also included inside the console is temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. The weather station also calculates dew point, wind Chill and heat index.
Both of the weather stations above are links to Affiliate Links to Amazon. We have seen these products used and we do recommend them to traveling RVers. We do receive a small commission for talking about these items, however it does not add more to your purchasing total for using these links. It does help our channel grow so we can continue to bring you ideas and things to make RV life more fun and more enjoyable. Thank you!