5 Tips on Driving an RV in heavy winds

Traveling in an RV or Motorhome in high winds can be quite the challenge. Let me share a first-hand account and some advice for all RVers encountering windy road conditions.

5 Tips on Driving an RV or Motorhome in windy road conditions

I've never been one to worry much about the weather.

If I have something planned and the blow-dried weather guys on TV are breathlessly warning us that a snowstorm or some weather situation is about to cause the sky to fall, I usually scoff and just go on with my plans.

Weather forecasters like to scare us and keep us tuned in for ratings.

I know this from first-hand experience back in my local TV reporting days when they'd scramble “storm teams” and bombard the public with 24 by 7 weather alerts and constant promos about the big storm coming.

Usually, it was much less than what was predicted.

I should have listened to the heavy wind warnings

So when we set off on one of our RV trips a while back with weather forecasters talking about a wind advisory and breezy conditions coming in hard with a cold front, I barely paid attention.

The RV was packed, we had places to go and so …. we did, heading straight down I-75 from our Michigan home.

I could tell it was windy as soon as I pulled out of my subdivision. But as we negotiated the heavy traffic through Detroit, the “concrete canyons” nulled the effect and it wasn't until, just north of the Ohio border near Monroe, MI, that it became apparent that the weather guys had this one right.

The heavy winds were hitting our RV

This was more than breezy. This was howling.

windadvisoryThey said on the radio that the west wind was gusting to 50 miles an hour. I can't confirm that, except to say that the trip through Ohio, with all that empty farmland bordering the interstate, was a virtual tug of war.

And hopes of being spelled from my driving duties by Jennifer went by the wayside as soon as the first gust slammed into the RV.

The wind blew and buffeted and the drive was two-handed all the way, made worse by wind shear from the occasional semi–tractor-trailers that passed me.

Most of the truckers, though, seemed to have even more trouble than we did and it was me that did most of the truck passing.

These were the worst wind conditions we have experienced in our RV

Truth told it may have been the worst wind conditions I have ever driven in.

Weather reports said the winds were responsible for lots of power outages. My RV at the time – ten feet high on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis -was like a sail.

But I also found myself – I know, this sounds weird – actually enjoying the challenge.

When in heavy winds in an RV, adjust your driving

It was “doable,” once I adapted my driving to the conditions. The dual rear wheels on the RV also helped provide the stability that never caused me any serious worries.

5 Tips on How to drive an RV in heavy winds

Here are five tips I learned about driving an RV in heavy winds that you may want to keep in mind if you find yourself in similar conditions:

  1. Keep both hands on the wheel. The wind really does want to push you to the next lane. A firm, not too tight grip, lets you easily overcome that.
  2. Keep the speed low. I usually tool down the interstate a little over 70. Much of the way yesterday, I kept it between 55 and 60. That seemed to be the sweet spot of speed for keeping it under maximum control.
  3. Reduce your speed and correct your steering, especially when moving from a protected area to an unprotected area, like overpasses, or when treelines along the wide of the road vanish, or when meeting large vehicles.
  4. Be very aware of traffic and the vehicles around you. Sudden gusts can blow any vehicle off course. Keep your distance from all other vehicles.
  5. Take breaks sooner than normal. We stopped about every other rest area. There's a lot of stress in driving while fighting the wheel. Spelling yourself for 10 to 15 minutes every hour or so really helps.

 

The winds won't blow forever

By the time we crossed into Kentucky and began heading directly west along US-71, the winds began to diminish. When we hit Louisville, they were no longer a factor.

I think we just drove out of the weather pattern that hit the upper Midwest.

We spent the night in a  neat and clean place called Grandmas RV Resort, right along i-65 in Shepherdsville, KY.

The spaces are all pull-throughs, 50 feet wide and 70 feet long, with full hookups except for cable.

To the east is a pasture where curious alpacas chew the lush green Kentucky grass and hang out by the fence to watch all the people in their tin can homes.

There's a huge flea market right next door that draws thousands of people on the weekends and many of the spots seemed to be taken up by vendors for that.

While there, we took in the Bourbon Trail, a meandering route that takes in a collection of  Kentucky distilleries that celebrate the rich tradition and proud history of “America's Official Native Spirit.”

 

Mike Wendland

 Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

 

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