The Best Ways for RVers to Deal With Tornadoes

Tornadoes are a common and real threat to people who travel in recreational vehicles.  They are 
  • extremely dangerous,
  • appear quickly and
  • can be deadly.
The best ways to deal with tornadoes while RVing

Pay Attention to Weather Reports

You won't hear salesmen talking about  tornadoes when they're trying to sell you a coach, but if you pay attention to national weather reports, it should be obvious that tornadoes are a force to be reckoned with, especially if you should encounter one while traveling in a camper, travel trailer or motor home.

These violent storms can be devastating unless you learn ahead of time what you need to do to deal with them and protect yourself,your family and your RV.

A True Story

I knew a couple that went to a KOA in South Dakota in May to work there for the summer.  A hail storm that was an offshoot of a tornado completely decimated their fifth wheel!

Fortunately they were camped in a small RV park and were able to take cover in the building that housed its office.

However, they barely made it.  In fact, the wind from the storm ripped the husband's glasses right off of his face!

When you hear stories like this, you learn to be cautious about where you go and when you go there, but even with that, sometimes you run into trouble.

My husband and I have had three enconters with tornadoes, and they were pretty scary.

Our First Tornado Scare

The first one took place in a small campground in Norman, Oklahoma.

This site was totally flat, and the only "cover" that was available was the little cement block office and store.

Word of an oncoming tornado ran through the camp, but the store was closed. There was virtually no place where campers could take cover.

Fortunately for all of us, the storm did not come our way, but we learned a good lesson. 

 Always camp where there is some sort of solid building to hide form a storm in if need be!

Had we been more experienced, we would have loaded our valuables into the car and drove off to find secure shelter.

The Next Tornado

The next event took place in Dodge City, Kansas.

This time we were not in a campground when we heard that a tornado was headed our way.

The best we were able to do was park in a truck stop between two large Semi trucks with the wall of the main building behind us.

We waited inside the store for the storm to pass, and again, it missed us. 

Since we were protected on three sides, it was likely that even if the storm had hit, our camper would have been spared.

However, that is not a theory we would have wanted to test!

Our Last Tornado Encounter

The final episode came in Valentine, Nebraska.

We pulled into a little campground there that we like one beautiful, cool summer morning.

It surprised us to see a big pile of junk lying right at the entrance. In fact, the whole campground was a mess.


Because the previous night, the campground had taken a direct hit from a tornado.  That pile of junk we saw was someone's RV!

All of the campers hid out in the store until the storm passed, and fortunately nobody was injured.

However, there was plenty of RV damage.

The park was located beside a storage facility for large oil drums.  When the storm hit, it lifted one of them and threw it across the fence and right into the front of a fifth wheel trailer.

Needless to say, the RV was destroyed.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

Since tornadoes move in a Northwest direction, the best thing you can do is try to position yourself Southeast of the storm.

Barring that, if you see one coming, leave your RV and find solid shelter until the storm passes.

If you are on the highway when one of these storms comes your way, and you are unable to find shelter, park your coach and lay flat in any available ditches or climb up under the interior of the side joists of any bridges that are close by.

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It's better to know about problems ahead of time than to wait until they are upon you!  

After our close calls with Tornadoes, we realized the importance of having an emergency weather radio with us while traveling and keeping an eye on weather reports.  We chose this Midland unit because it was inexpensive as well as emergency certified.  Now we feel much safer when we travle.

Always Be Prepared to Deal With Hazardous Weather

Tornadoes cannot be foreseen.  We were lucky during the three times we had to deal with them, but those experiences have made us much more vigilant when we are on the road.

Since we live in an area where tornadoes are rare, each one of these situations was pretty scary.

The lesson here is that when you are an RV traveler, you must learn to watch for weather patterns and protect yourself as best you can.

Some people are not as lucky as we were.