Campers, Camping and Hurricanes

camper parked in backyard

We’ve had our new Grand Design Imagine travel trailer for about five months. We’ve also had two hurricanes. Fortunately these hurricanes did not bring enormous winds, only 60-70 mph I believe. Hurricane Ian hit us after it moved across the state from the Gulf, and a few weeks later Nicole came in from the east.

Our RV sits at the side of our house on the grass while not in use. It is not undercover, and there are trees all around. Fortunately this does help to keep the camper cooler in hot months. But the threat of limbs falling is real! We had no damage to the camper with either hurricane.

RV parked in side yard
The camper is stored in the yard.

We live in Florida and will most likely have to weather many more hurricanes and strong storms. This state has loads of campgrounds and many are near water and located along the coast.

So what happens to the people camping who are in coastal campgrounds and a hurricane approaches?

They have to leave. With Hurricane Nicole beach erosion was the big problem along with flooding along the coast. Campers had to pack up and get out of campgrounds that would be underwater. This was probably true for Hurricane Ian as well because it dumped nearly two feet of water where I live!

Where do all the campers go? I really don’t know. If you are a camper who has been displaced by a Florida hurricane, please fill us in. Because there are a lot of campgrounds maybe everyone headed inland to various camping spots. Maybe they headed back home.

As I was reading the Grand Design FaceBook page, one person was asking about how much wind a camper could take. I suspect quite a bit. RVs have to travel on roads being towed fast. It is likely that traveling means hitting some windy spots too. It was a good question and probably came from someone like me who stores their camper out in the open at their home. They were probably facing a hit from Hurricane Nicole.

How much wind can an RV withstand without tipping over?

I figured I should look this up. On GudGear they say up to 75 mph, but it matters whether you are towing it or it is stationery. It doesn’t take much wind to affect a camper while it is being towed.

As you may imagine, it also matters what type and size the camper is. Some campers are big and weigh a lot, others are small and lightweight. Either way, a parked camper can hold up to some high winds without tipping over, and especially if it is facing the correct way.

Our travel trailer is parked so that it faces into the wind, which comes from the east when a hurricane passes. It is also very blocked by the house on one side and woods on the other. I would worry about an RV sitting out in the open with winds hitting the side directly. We had 90mph gusts with Hurricane Ian, and 70 mph winds with Nicole and had no trouble with our 28 foot RV swaying or tipping – that we saw!

RV parked at the side of the house
Our camper is tucked between the house and woods. Photo taken the day after the 2nd hurricane.

Hooking a trailer up to a truck / tow vehicle might help as well. The article mentions that stabilizers should be down too. All common sense stuff.

If we ever had higher winds, we could be in trouble, but this side of the state rarely gets a direct hit from any hurricane, much less one in a high category.

One thing that annoyed me a bit on FB was comments saying to hook up and leave and get away from the wind. Now, campgrounds have to make you leave for safety sometimes, but if your camper is sitting in your yard, it’s not that easy to get away.

First of all, people work, and even though businesses can be shut down for a day or so, it’s not enough time to pack up a camper, find a campground out of harm’s way, and wait until it’s safe to go back. If the storm is covering a large area, finding a camping spot could be especially difficult because of all the other displaced campers who are also looking for campsites.

My son drives our truck and tows the camper. He is a firefighter, and First Responders work during hurricanes. They don’t have the luxury to even be at home with family for storms, much less pick up and go camping to stay safe. We can’t leave even if we wanted to.

This year we bought our camper, got Covid, camped twice (Salt Springs and O’Leno State Park), and have had two hurricanes. I’m looking forward to starting a new year.

(Retro camper photos on this page: credit to Pixabay)

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