How much wind can an RV withstand: Safety tips for windy conditions
Weather can make or break your travel and vacation. When it is sunny and clear, everything is good. But when bad weather comes around, everyone should be cautious and prepared regardless of the situation. How much wind can an RV withstand? Strong winds can be pretty scary for anyone driving an RV or living inside it. It is normal to wonder about your RV’s well-being and whether it can flip over because of how windy it is.
How much wind can an RV withstand?
Whether your travel trailer will flip over at certain wind speeds is not an exact science. The amount of wind an RV can withstand depends on many factors. You will need to consider many factors such as wind speed, wind angle, the RV’s weight, the RV’s design, whether you are facing the wind or positioned broadside to the wind, and your calmness and preparedness. It is best to understand how each factor affects your RV when driving it or when it is stationary to understand how much wind an RV can withstand and make decisions accordingly.
Strong winds while traveling
Driving during solid winds is challenging for any vehicle; however, it is worse for RVs than smaller cars. The larger RV size means they have more surface area, making them more vulnerable to wind and air resistance.
A windstorm of 48-80 km per hour (30-50 mph) can cause your RV to flip over when traveling on the highway. If you feel that you cannot drive the RV properly during such a windstorm, it is wise to pull over in a safe location and wait for the storm to pass. You should know how much wind your RV can withstand and how much you can handle. Your feelings matter a lot. If you feel anxious, nervous, or uncertain about the situation, you shouldn’t force yourself to drive through such strong winds. Some people even refuse to drive in winds of 20mph as they say, better safe than sorry. So, trust your intuition and be aware of the weather prospects. Know the safe speed you can comfortably drive at during various wind speeds and angles.
Strong winds while camping
RVs can handle more wind impact while parked than driving through bad weather. A stationary RV can withstand 160 km/hr (100mph) winds without flipping over. However, this depends substantially on wind angles, weight distribution inside the RV, weight inside the RV, how well it is secured, and other surrounding factors. You cannot control external conditions such as the speed of the wind. Still, if you plan adequately, you can be prepared for any bad weather or windy conditions when camping or parking your travel trailer.
Driving during strong winds
Follow proper protocols if you are unsure how much wind an RV can withstand but still have to drive through the wind. First of all, turn off your cruise control. Stormy wind means it’s time to shift to manual driving, where you have more control and can change the speed according to the changes in the wind you feel.
Being hit broadside by a gust of wind can be frightening. It can come without warning while driving, and it might push your RV sideways. When being broadsided by a gust of wind, you could struggle to keep control of the vehicle, and the feeling of the RV moving can also be scary. In case of side winds, keep your cool, and don’t panic. It would be best to steer your RV in the opposite direction of the side wind’s direction while slowing down.
Headwinds and tailwinds can also occur, but they won’t have as scary or unpleasant an effect as losing your RV control due to side winds. Headwinds push against the RV as you drive forward, causing air resistance that will affect your speed. Your speed will slow down, and this will consume more fuel. In contrast, tailwinds push you forward from the back; increasing your speed reduces fuel consumption. Depending on whichever kind of wind you are experiencing, you should adjust your speed accordingly and drive carefully.
When driving, make it a point to be aware of your surroundings, like windbreaks and passing vehicles. Due to the size of the RV, it can react to vehicles that are passing. This effect will be more significant if the other vehicle is large, such as another RV or rig. The wind from this vehicle can cause your RV to shift sideways and can push you off course. You may lose control of your RV.
Moreover, windbreaks such as overpasses may be tricky when it is windy. When you pass under an overpass while you are compensating on the open road, it may make you overcorrect in this sheltered area. Hence, you should be pre-prepared. It is better to know ahead rather than being abruptly surprised and ending up in a situation that adds to stress or puts your safety at risk. For this, make sure you know when such spaces, passing vehicles, and windbreaks may come up, so you can handle yourself and your vehicle accordingly.
Potential Wind damage to solar panels
Solar panels on your RV’s roof are becoming a significant feature for many RV owners and hardcore campers. Though solar panels fulfill a significant function, high-speed winds can damage them or the RV’s roof mounts, given their positioning. While many people are concerned about how much wind their RV can withstand, they forget to think about the potential damage it can cause to solar panels.
Solar Panels can either be mounted horizontally or tilted on your RV roof. Horizontally positioned panels are usually never damaged by the high-speed winds of a hurricane or tornado. However, in comparison, tilted solar panels or their harnessing can easily be damaged by a relatively stiff solid wind if it’s from the right angle. Fold back tilted panels while driving; strong storm winds can even damage stationary RVs with tilted roof panels if the angle is such. Solar panels and their securing on the roof can be quite expensive. Extreme temperatures, mistakes of not folding them while driving under an overpass, and stormy conditions with high wind speed and hail are the prime reasons for damage to solar panels on most RVs. So overall, you would have to be careful if you have solar panels on your RV’s roof, especially if they are tilted.
While it is pretty difficult to know exactly how much wind your RV can withstand, there are some safety tips for driving through windy weather. Be prepared when the wind starts blowing. You can stay calm and collected when you have this in mind.
It is essential to prepare ahead without being surprised when the weather starts getting bad. So, it would be best if you were listening to the weather forecast. You should already know the wind rating in the area you’re traveling in.
During high winds, when you don’t know how much wind your RV can withstand, it would be best to stop somewhere on the shoulder. You can find an overpass and park under that as this will provide you with adequate shelter while you can wait out the bad weather. If you end up parked in a parking lot or unprotected area, park with the nose of your RV pointing into the wind minimizing the surface area of the RV that is exposed to the wind. The front of the RV is the most aerodynamic part of its design since it is designed to drive forward and not in reverse. So, it can deal with windy situations best.
Remember basic rules such as keeping both your hands on the wheel and taking breaks while driving. This way, you will have more control in steering your RV. Taking breaks is a good idea. Driving when exhausted is a bad idea on any day, but it is simply dangerous when you add windy weather to the mix. It is challenging to fight the wind when you are driving if you are already exhausted, and the stress and anxiety from this will only make you more exhausted, affecting your driving further. Taking breaks will allow you to rest physically and mentally.
Constant focus on the steering wheel and gas pedal
Most of the time, one would not end up in a situation with winds as high as a category three hurricane, tropical cyclone, or tornado. However, if you face a hurricane or tornado warning, irrespective of the category, and you don’t know how much wind your RV can withstand, it would be best to seek shelter immediately or pull over. You should be aware of the hurricane wind scale beforehand.
You may encounter mild storms and stiff winds on open highways during which you would want to continue driving towards your destination. You must understand the usual effects of winds on RVs and campers during these times and balance them.
The direction of the vehicle regarding the wind’s direction is the only thing that matters when it comes to knowing how much wind can an RV withstand. Firstly, side winds exert a strong push towards the direction they are heading.
To counter this, you will need to apply tension on the steering wheel against the wind’s blowing, in this case, the right side. Tension can be increased or decreased depending on wind gusts, so keep a lookout for that. Moreover, tailwinds that are blowing towards your RV direction will exert a push, so one should exert less pressure on the gas pedal and do the opposite in the case of headwinds.
Look out for cuts and windbreaks ahead on the road.
When countering for the wind and its direction while driving an RV or camper using the steering wheel and gas pedal, having an unexpected break in the wind effect can have disastrous effects, more so on narrow roads with high traffic. The sudden stop in the wind will result in the driver’s tension on the steering wheel in either direction or on the gas pedal to overpower the vehicle’s direction and speed. To avoid oversteering, you should look for objects and things that will block the wind.
Overhead passes, trees, cliffs, or mountain; objects can all cause windbreaks, so one shouldn’t just focus on the road but also on its surroundings while correcting for the wind impact on the steering wheel or pedal.
Turning in high-speed conditions
Of course, even in strong winds, driving straight is still manageable compared to turning the steering wheel to turn when a strong wind exerts a force on your vehicle from whichever direction. Highways and interchanges usually have no windbreaks and big curves. Firstly, it’s essential to consciously be aware that turning your large vehicle in windy conditions requires more control, so it is better to ease up on the gas pedal.
Secondly, it is always better to turn into the wind when on a curve. If you have to curve in the wind’s general direction, it is better to slow down because that’s the most probable situation where an RV is likely to flip in solid winds.
When the situation starts getting windy, and you are unsure how much wind your RV can withstand, it is best for you and your RV’s safety to seek shelter. It is also good to plan depending on weather forecasts so you don’t get any surprises and preserve your safety.