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Old 09-04-2016, 10:54 AM   #1
Manzfam's Avatar
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Location: Wall, NJ
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Bad Weather Guidelines

We just cut our Labor Day weekend short and left Massey's Landings CG in Delaware early due to Hermine. The conditions were not bad but it was windy and only one road to the mainland floods easily. As a new RVer, I would need some help in determining when it is safe to travel in inclement weather. We have a 40 ft non tag diesel weighing under 20 tons without a toad. At what MPH sustained winds and gusts does it become unsafe to drive a motorhome (sailboat)? Should I avoid bridges?? It did get a little gusty on the ride home but I was able to stay in my lane. While at the CG, the wind direction was coming from the back straight over the top of the RV. I pulled in my slides because the slide topper covers were flopping around too much and I wasn't sure if the slides being out created more of a problem. I am looking for any advice and/or experiences in camping and driving in storms. Thank you in advance.

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Old 09-04-2016, 11:00 AM   #2
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Sounds like you did OK. IMO there is no set of rules for any situation. Using common sense and a low tolerance for risk can never be a bad thing.

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Old 09-04-2016, 12:10 PM   #3
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When driving near or through a storm I have my wife keep an eye on the weather channel.

Mostly I have her watching wind speeds. When the sustained winds are starting to climb above 25 mph I look for an area to pull over and park in to the wind. I worry more about awnings being unfurled than I do being blown off the road.

I don't worry too much about rain as long as I can see through it.

I don't mind snow either, after living in Alaska for 8 years you learn to deal with it, ice is a completely different matter. I avoid icy roads. Kept tires chains in the both RVs in those days.

Lightning, I unplug from the pedestal and pull metal jacks up.

Severe weather like tornados, hurricanes, etc.. each on presents different circumstances and need to be dealt with accordingly. Hurricanes are more predictable, I watch the weather and leave ahead of the storm.
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:27 PM   #4
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I have a similar sized rig. Got caught in a windstorm in the middle of Wyoming with (per the road sign) 57+ mph winds. I NEVER want to do that again (though it might have been less frightening if I hadn't bought it two days earlier and this was only my second day driving the rig.)
I find that up to about 30mph winds are OK (I have added a steer-safe in the interim). more than that and I can really feel it to the point that I start to feel uncomfortable. Slowing down helps some (at 65mph when the wind caught us in that storm I would travel much farther off the road than at 35). If in doubt hunker down somewhere safe when you get there.
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:45 PM   #5
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The main guideline I would follow is "slow down". You seldom know what the sustained and gust wind speeds are for where your RV happens to be, so a rule involving trigger velocities wouldn't be much use. If the vehicle feels unstable, slow down. If it still feels unstable, pull off and wait,

Most exposed bridges have procedures to close to high profile vehicles. This is the case, for example with the Mackinaw in Michigan and Ponchatrain Causeway in Louisiana. If conditions are windy and your route takes you across large bodies of water, check the state DOT website for road conditions and warnings. If gusty conditions are forecast, getting started early can often help. Typically the wind velocity picks up during the day.

Again, the main guideline is to take it slow, and don't let other drivers hurry you. You will soon learn your vehicle handling characteristics under different conditions.
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Old 09-05-2016, 04:36 AM   #6
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This year we hit some heavy winds and rain, but only for a short spell. In 2015 we got caught up in some of the worst weather I've ever driven through. When we hit Ft Stockton TX the weather started to turn. We were headed to GA to visit my daughter and her family and had to decide whether, or not, to continue on taking I10, or turn around and go home. Going as far south as possible we ran into heavy rains (6" in one hour) and crazy thunder storms, hail the size of large marbles and constant tornado warnings. We made it through and back with the return trip being as bad if not worse. It was 8200 miles of weather hell. I would not have done it had I known then what I know now. Bridges had collapsed, roads washed out and anything else you can imagine. On the trip home they shut down I35 out of Dallas 30 minutes after we had passed through due to a massive landslide that cover the entire freeway with rock and debris. I would have delayed out trip east had I know the weather was so severe and made the trip this year. There was more than once we thought the wind would take over and numerous times that hydroplaning was a distinct risk. You did right getting out of Dodge while the getting was good. Our MHs are like large sailboats running down the road. Unlike sailboats we don't float worth a hoot.
'97 Pace Arrow Vision 36 with Tag Axel, Ford 460 with Banks Power Pack. 2000 Jeep Wrangler Toad, one miniature schnauzer that rules the roost and a wife that enjoys traveling. Retired FTCS (SS) USN and loving it. FMCA#461483
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Old 09-05-2016, 04:10 PM   #7
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Each of us will have individual limits concerning bad weather driving along with how well or poorly the coach performs. A good indicator is when you notice all the long haul truckers have disappeared from the highway.

My worst was when the edge of Hurricane Sandy clipped south eastern Virginia with 40 knot winds. Constant winds I don't have much problem with but when a gusts hits the coach and pushes it into the next traffic lane you might want start looking for someplace to wait the weather out. Pull off someplace safe, fire up the generator and watch a movie or two.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:45 AM   #8
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It sounds like you did fine!

Yes to the slow down. If no traffic coming towards you, and no one around you on a two + lane going in the same direction, then don't be afraid to use the road. As mentioned, it's the shifting and gusting winds that are hardest to setup for. Again if no traffic around you, try not to overreact and oversteer to compensate for the wind moving you around. Take a second to let the coach 'set', if it's a minor move left or right (Obviously if a specific gust has moved you to say going off the shoulder of the road, you have to compensate and react then.), that second to let the coach suspension 'set' will allow you then to properly adjust with one movement of the wheel. (Sorry, I probably did not say that very well. But the key is to not get yourself into a combo of oversteering/over reacting to minor movements. This can cause an escalation of the the problem.

When coming up on bridges, look for windsocks, as they will give you an indication on what to set for.

When going under overpasses, and or the wind blocks, be ready for the wind falling off, and then back on, as you clear the wind blockage.

We have a medium weight 40' with tag, we run about 34.5K pounds, and with toad we're pulling about 37K pounds. I find 25-30 MPH winds, to be OK to drive in. I start paying closer attention in the 30-35 MPH winds!

And my two main personal deciding points on whether or not to pull of the road, are:
1) My gut. Do I feel it is, or becoming, unsafe to drive.
2) The truckers. When they pull off, I know it's time for me to pull off.


On your slide toppers. We have a 1/4" of nylon rope. I've one in a baggie for each slide. I tie a soft but slightly heavy wheel brush to one end, and then usually with less then two tosses, get the rope up over the slide topper. I untie the brush, and having two eye loops tied into each end of the rope, then use a 18" Twisty (The tie grips you can get at Home Depot and Lowes, that have the rubber coating on them, and allow you to bend/twist them into and around things.) thru each end of the loops. The rope is completely wrapped around the slide, and I loop the twisty thru on the side. I pull enough tension on the line to pull down the edges of the slide topper about 2-3".

This 2-3" of tightening down the edges of the slide topper, really helps keeping the wind from lifting and flapping the slide toppers. Much quieter inside the coach.

The downside to this, is that if the wind does pick up enough that I feel it is prudent to pull them in, or at least on my coach the big and deeper slide in the front living zone - I have to go outside and unhook the twisty and pull the line off the topper. (Have had to do that maybe twice in the last 5 years or so.).

I also am not shy on bringing our slides in pro-actively. If we have unstable, and forecasted high winds and thunderstorms or even a few time Tornado Watches/Warnings - I bring the slides in.

On lightening, I too disconnect (Not just power off at the pedestal, I disconnect and bring in the power line.) from the pedestal. Have plenty of battery power.

One other tip, if you are in an area with snow forecasted, bring your slide in. (Me being from San Diego, I have little snow experience. We woke up to an unexpected 6" of snow at Tigers Run in Breckenridge, the same day we were suppose to head out. Not only was their snow on top of the slide topper, we had ice too. Up on the roof, got as much of the snow off as I could. But the ice on the topper would not allow it to go into our Carefree topper casing as I tried to bring the slides in. Went to the office to let them know we were working on getting our slides in, and that we maybe a bit late pulling out. (No problem they said.) And up on the ladder and or roof, with my wife hair dryer. From start to finish, we were delayed 3 1/2 hours before getting on the road. And we were helped some by the sun that came out too! Made a long day's drive, and much later arrival at our next destination then we like.)

And I personally do not drive in snow or ice. I wait until the snow highways are good to go, and will extend stays if needed to avoid driving on snow, and just will not drive on ice.

Load your phone up with an weather alert APP, we have Weatherbug on my wife's phone, and I have another app on my phone. And know what County you're driving or staying in, if bad weather is forecasted.

Common sense, and getting some time under your belt in the RV, will allow you to find your comfort zone. Stay within it, and go have some fun!

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