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 quite scary for anyone driving an RV or living inside it. It is completely 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 a lot of 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 if you are positioned broadside to the wind, and of course, your own calmness and preparedness. It is best if you understand how each factor affects your RV when you are driving it or when it is stationary to understand how much wind can an RV withstand and make decisions accordingly.
Strong winds while traveling
Driving during strong winds is tough for any vehicle; however, its worse for RVs than smaller cars. This is because the larger size of the RV means they have more surface area that can make it more vulnerable to the wind and air resistance.
When you travel on the highway, a windstorm of 48-80 km per hour (30-50 mph) can cause your RV to flip over. 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 be aware of 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, which you can comfortably drive at during various wind speeds and angles.
Strong winds while camping
RVs can handle more wind impact when it is parked than when it is driving through bad weather. A stationary RV can withstand winds of 160 km/hr (100mph) 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. Needless to say, one cannot control outside conditions such as the speed of the wind, but you can plan and be prepared for any bad weather or windy conditions that you can encounter when you are camping or parking your travel trailer.
Driving during strong winds
If you are not sure how much wind can an RV withstand, but still have to drive through wind, make sure to follow proper protocols. First of all, turn off your cruise control. Bad 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 wind that you feel.
Being hit by sidewind can be frightening. It can come without warning while you are driving, and it might push your RV sideways. This will make you 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. You need to steer your RV in the opposite direction of the side wind’s direction while slowing down. It needs to be done carefully.
Headwind 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 are driving forward, causing air resistance so that it will affect your speed. Your speed will slow down, and this will consume more fuel. In contrast, tailwinds push you forward from the back. This will increase your speed, resulting in less fuel being consumed. Depending on whichever kind of wind you are experiencing, you should adjust your speed accordingly and drive carefully.
When you are driving, make it a point to be aware of your surroundings. This includes windbreaks as well as passing vehicles. Due to the size of the RV, it can react to vehicles that are passing you by. This effect will be greater 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 prove to be tricky during times when it is really windy. When you pass under an overpass while you were 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 are already aware of 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 the roof of your RV are increasingly becoming an important and significant feature for many RV owners and especially 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 the roof of your RV. Horizontally positioned panels are usually never damaged by high-speed winds of a hurricane or tornado. However, in comparison, tilted solar panels or their harnessing can easily be damaged by a rather strong stiff wind if it’s from the right angle. While it is always recommended to fold back tilted panels while driving, strong winds of a storm 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/or hail are the prime reasons for damage to solar panels on most RVs. So overall, you would have to be really careful if you have solar panels on the roof of your RV, especially if they are tilted.
While it is quite difficult to know exactly how much wind your RV can withstand, there are some safety tips for driving through windy weather. These will help you be prepared when the wind starts blowing. You can stay calm and collected when you have these in mind.
It is important to prepare ahead and not be taken by surprise when the weather starts getting bad. So, it would be best if you were listening to the weather forecast. You should already know what the wind rating is 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. This is to minimize the surface area of the RV that is exposed to the wind. The front of the RV is basically 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 you drive. This way, you will have more control in steering your RV. Taking breaks is a good idea. Driving when you are 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, effecting your driving further. This can put you and others are a risk. 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 are faced with a hurricane or tornado warning, irrespective of the category, and you don’t know how much wind can your RV withstand, it would be best that you seek shelter immediately or at least pullover. 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. During these times, you must understand the usual effects of winds on RVs and campers 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. When coming from the right and blowing towards the left of your bearing, sidewinders will exert a push on the steering wheel towards the left, and conversely, the opposite.
To counter this, you will need to apply tension on the steering wheel against the blowing of the wind, in this case, the right side. Tension can be increased or decreased depending on gusts of wind, so keep a lookout for that as well. 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, which are blowing against the direction of your vehicle.
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/or gas pedal, having an unexpected break in the wind effect can have disastrous effects, more so on narrow roads 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/or speed. To avoid oversteering, you should be on the lookout for objects and things that will block the wind.
Overhead passes, trees, cliffs, or mountains; objects can all cause windbreaks, so one shouldn’t just focus on the road but also on its surroundings while correcting for the wind effect on the steering wheel and/or pedal.
Turning in high-speed conditions
Of course, even in strong winds, driving straight is still easy 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 important to consciously be aware that turning your large vehicle in windy conditions requires more control than normal, so it is better to ease up on the gas pedal.
Secondly, a simple rule of thumb of always better to turn into the wind when on a curve. If you have to curve in the wind’s general direction, then it is better to slow down because that’s the most probable situation where an RV would be likely to flip in strong winds.
Overall, when the situation starts getting windy and unsure about 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 your safety is preserved.