Hurricane Preparedness for RVers

If you RV on the East Coast, through the southern Gulf States to Texas, you’re already aware that Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico hurricanes and tropical storms are a fact of life from June 1 through November 30 and the height of the hurricane season occurs from late August through early October.

Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Hurricane Wilma was a category 5 hurricane and one of the costliest storms in history. Hurricane Wilma's highest sustained winds was at 185 mph. Lowest pressure point measured at 882 mbar. (Credit: hurricane-facts.com)

Although less common, they do occur on the Pacific Coast in southern California and Baja California, Mexico.

Any day now, as we enter the peak of the hurricane season, you’ll turn on the TV and see a meteorologist pointing to a radar blob in the Gulf of Mexico make two basic meteorological points:

  • There is no need to panic
  • We could all be killed

You may wish to follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

  • Step 1: Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least seven days
  • Step 2: Load these supplies into your recreational vehicle
  • Step 3: Drive to Wyoming and stay there until after Thanksgiving

While you may deem this plan to be somewhat overkill, it begs the question: What should RVers do?

Above all else, use common sense and remain calm.

Planning and preparation is the key—and that’s where you should start NOW. As an RVer you are already several steps ahead in preparation for a hurricane.

Hurricanes Warrant Evacuation

Twelve to 18 named tropical storms with winds of at least 39 miles (63 kilometers) an hour could form in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) head Jane Lubchenco (May 19, 2011). Credit: catastrophemonitor.com)

A major problem is most everyone—yes, including many RVers—thinks they can ride out a hurricane or that it’s not going to be all that severe, or more commonly, like thousands of others, wait until the last minute then find themselves stalled in a heavy traffic along with all the unprepared, last minute evacuees watching as their half-empty fuel gauge sucks out the last drops of fuel.

Evacuation is the key to safely surviving a hurricane and your RV gives you a great advantage. But, don’t wait too long. As soon as you know a hurricane is on its way, load up your RV and head inland.

Hurricanes and tropical storms often stall once they make landfall generating torrential downpours, flash floods, hail, lightening, and/or tornados. Between 1970 and 1999, 59 percent of deaths from hurricanes were caused by freshwater flooding.

Since the path of the storm may change requiring you to alter your evacuation route, stay informed as you travel. The most useful item to stay informed of current weather information is a NOAA Weather radio. Make sure you have fresh batteries in the radio and carry plenty of spares.

Snowbirds and full time RVers will already have many of the supplies needed to live for up to a week. Part time RVers should check the contents of their rigs in preparation for the hurricane season.

Lay in supplies as though you are going off to boondock somewhere for a week. Take plenty of extra water.

Flooding over access road 523 to Surfside beach, caused by Hurricane Ike forming in the Gulf of Mexico, is seen near Surfside Beach, Texas, September 12, 2008. (Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Keep your fuel tank and propane tank topped off because there will be long lines at gas stations when the evacuation rush is on.

Be aware that severe weather can begin many hours before the eye of the hurricane lands and winds, water surges, and storm conditions can be severe and worsen.

Even if you’re among the first to evacuate you may find full RV parks and campgrounds.

Replenish your first aid kit and check on prescription medications.

Ensure you have clothes and supplies for everyone on board including the family pet. Keep cell phones and two way radios fully charged.

Keep everyone in your family, or group, informed of plans.

By the time a hurricane is named you should be following its location and be pretty well prepared.

You don’t fool around with either hurricanes or tornadoes! Only advantage—if there is one—of hurricanes is you have far more warning and better tracking than you do with tornado.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Hurricanes and the RVer

Part 2: Hurricane Primer

Worth Pondering…
Anyone who says they’re not afraid at the time of a hurricane is either a fool or a liar, or a little bit of both.
—Anderson Cooper

This entry was posted in RV Safety and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply