I have been stuck in very windy conditions, and it was more of a challenge than I expected. I have never really worried about the weather, but this particular windstorm was like playing tug of war with mother nature.
Not only was it tiring driving that way, but Jennifer was not comfortable relieving me as the driver. That made it all the more taxing!
The constant swerving and fighting to keep my rig in the lane was both physically and mentally challenging.
I learned a lot from that drive and sought to learn more after. Instead of having to learn firsthand yourself, here are some helpful tips…
When Is It Too Windy to Drive an RV?
Generally speaking, you should avoid driving an RV in strong winds of 45 mph or more. Once winds hit around 60 mph, the wind can topple large vehicles.
RVs have a large surface area, and winds like that can tip over your vehicle. At the very least, winds at that speed can push you like waves crashing into a toddler.
The winds from my tug-of-war experience were around that 50-mark and it wasn’t for the faint of heart. Or should I say the more sensible?
If you’re not comfortable driving in lower wind speeds like 30-40 mph winds, pull on over in a safe place. Only drive in what feels safe to you… and your traveling partner. You don’t want to put them through undue anxiety either.
10 Tips for Driving an RV in Strong Winds
The following are excellent tips for staying safe when driving an RV in strong winds.
1. Check the Weather Before Driving (& Listen to It)
The day I drove in that windstorm, I knew it was coming. Or rather, I knew the weatherman thought it was coming. I figured he was being exaggeratory and wasn’t going to let it interfere with my plans.
In all honesty, that mindset has worked for me in the past. But in this case, the weatherman was right. I shouldn’t have dismissed his forecast so easily and carefully considered the level of wind threat.
I should’ve seriously considered postponing our travels or redirecting. If you can’t (or won’t) postpone your travel date, you can try and rearrange your route to best fit the weather conditions.
We suggest using this app for current weather conditions — Drive Weather app.
2. Drive Into the Wind
If there are wind warnings, try to find out which direction the wind is blowing. If you can travel against it, do so.
This obviously only works if you don’t have a set direction you need to go. But you can still consider some flexibility.
For instance, let’s say your destination is NW and the wind is blowing E. If you were planning on a route that took you North first, see if there’s another route where you can head west first instead.
This is helpful because the wind, much like swimming against a current, will not get pushed along with it. It will split and pass on the sides of the vehicle instead of pushing you side to side.
Just know, driving an RV in strong winds is gonna kill your fuel economy. (Speaking of which, here are tips on How to Get Better Gas Mileage in Your RV)
3. Weigh Down the Rear of Your RV
Another tip for safer traveling in high wind situations is to weigh down your RV. Put more weight toward the rear of the vehicle, ideally over the rear wheelbase as much as possible.
Weighing it down will help ease bouncing and swaying by giving your rig a heavier, lower center of gravity.
4. Slow Down
One of the best decisions you can make when driving in the wind is to slow down. Your *new* speed limit is whatever gives you better control, no matter how slow that is.
When I was driving in that windstorm, I found a sweet spot that made me feel in control but still moving forward through the storm. In that particular situation, it was 10-15 mph slower than I’d normally drive. But again, only drive as fast as you can still control.
When you drive fast, it is more difficult to exercise control over your rig. You also have less time to react if something were to go wrong.
5. Watch for Wind Spikes
Be prepared for what is called “wind spikes.” When you pass by other big vehicles (like big rigs), bridges or buildings, there will be a gust of wind when you pass.
Just be prepared so that you can hold your vehicle steady and on course. Hold the wheel firmly but not too tightly with two hands. Be ready to turn slightly into the wind spikes.
Since other cars are dealing with these same spikes, keep your distance in every direction from other vehicles. Avoid driving next to someone as much as possible.
6. Constantly Adjust
When you’re driving in high wind conditions, you need to push back against the wind by slightly turning the wheel into it. But the problem is, wind isn’t constant. It comes in gusts.
So, you’re constantly adjusting to push back against it and then return to straight. These need to be small, gentle movements. Think of it as pressing, not shoving against the wind.
Think of it like two people pressing against opposite sides of a swinging door to keep it closed. If you push hard and the person on the other side (the wind) stops pushing, you’ll tumble through. If you’re only pressing against it instead of shoving against it, you can right yourself before falling through.
7. Don’t Overcorrect
If the wind suddenly breaks and you sharply veer toward it (“tumble through the door”), calmly steer back. Do not overcorrect!
Try your best not to jerk the wheel but rather smoothly pull it back to where you need to be.
Remember, the goal is smooth, calm movements. Not shoves and jerks.
8. Most Importantly – Look for an Exit
If the winds get too heavy while driving, look for the nearest exit to pull off and stop. If there is not an exit for many miles, you can always pull off on the shoulder. Pull as far off as you safely can.
Look for areas that have a block from the wind. You will also want to be as far away from other vehicles as possible. Be sure to put your hazard lights on so other drivers can clearly see you.
9. Park in a Safe Place
If the wind feels too unsafe to drive in, look for a place to pull off the road. You want to search for the safest place to park and essentially “hide” from the wind.
Look for buildings that you can park behind or a freeway underpass to stop under. These are great places to find a break from the wind and protect you from flying debris.
If there are no structures around, look for lower ground. Park at the base of a hill. Be wary of parking near trees as even the sturdiest of trees likely have weak branches. The same goes for signposts, billboards, and telephone poles.
10. Ensure Your Slideouts are Secure
If you do stop, you’ll probably want to keep your slideouts closed. If they are out, the wind can catch them and cause your rig to topple.
Or, if it does not tip your rig, having the slides out makes them vulnerable to getting damaged.
This bundle is our popular Upper Peninsula RV Adventure Guide PLUS our newest Adventure Guide – The Great Lakes Shoreline Tour! Both ebooks will give you plenty of ideas and resources to enjoy this part of the US.
The Great Lakes Shoreline Tour — One of our favorite RV trips has been driving the United States side of the five Great Lakes. It is a trip of over 4,000 miles and takes you to 8 states! And it’s filled with beautiful vistas, welcoming towns and villages, and fabulous places to camp, hike, and explore.
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