Can High Winds Flip Over Your RV?

PublishedApril 18, 2017

Palm trees in hurricane

There's a storm coming.

They say that the winds will be gusting up to 65mph.

That's quite daunting when you are living inside of an RV.

You're wondering if your stationary rig can be flipped from the high winds. 

The quick answer is: you might want to be somewhere else.

Seriously.

Depending on what kind of RV you have (What are the different classes of RVs?), whether or not you are fully exposed broadside to the wind, if you are using stabilizers, yada, yada, yada, you may be in trouble.

So Am I Flippable Or Not?

There's a lot that has to be factored in for your RV to be flipped.

The size of the RV, its weight, the direction and duration of the wind and windbreaks are just a few factors.

If you think about it, a rig is made to be able to sustain winds it encounters during driving speeds.

We are only talking head-on wind. 

Mother nature has other plans when she blows and it's not always coming in a straight line - it may be coming broadside. 

dog hanging out car window

Want to put your mind at ease?

You've come to the wrong place.

Read this study (PDF) on the effect of wind on vehicles.

Then proceed to have nightmares about your RV tipping over in high winds.

Are we being dramatic? We wish we were.

Your RV Is Pretty Safe In Winds Under 53 MPH.

Yes, you read that correctly.

53 miles an hour!

That's for an 18-foot travel trailer.

Motorhomes theoretically can withstand (slightly) higher wind speeds.

In the study, scientists concluded this:

"They reported minimum overturning wind speeds (perpendicular to the vehicle) of 24 m/s (53 mi/hr) for a 5.5 m [18 foot] travel trailer, 29 m/s (65 mi/hr) for a 9 m [29.5 foot]  motor home, 33 m/s (73 mi/hr) for a 13,600 kg semi-trailer, and 45 m/s (101 mi/hr) for a 5 m [16.4 foot] camper van [class B]."

Not sure about you, but reading the above section of the study was a HUGE eye-opener.

Camp Addict co-founder Marshall spent a couple of months in Albuquerque in the spring of 2014, right after he went full-time.

For those of you that don't know, the ABQ experiences some very high winds in the springtime. 

Marshall had the 'pleasure' of experiencing broadside winds close to 60 miles an hour in his 24-foot travel trailer and felt at times he was close to tipping over.

Now he understands why!

He had his stabilizers down which most likely helped keep things upright, but still, it wasn't any fun.

How To Prepare For Heavy Winds In Your RV

Here are some tips for feeling the wind as little as possible in your rig: 

  • If possible, point your rig in the direction the wind is coming from. This will greatly reduce the impact compared to if you are getting hit broadside.
  • Stay informed ahead of time. Keep a weather radio handy or have alerts sent to you from your weather app.
  • Put those slides in! Not only can slides get very noisy if they have an awning on top, but putting them in reduces the real estate that the wind can hit. 
  • This should be a no-brainer but put your stabilizing jacks down. It helps a lot.
  • Keep your your tow vehicle (RV hitch) connected to your trailer if possible, or hitch-up. Being attached to another large object can lessen the impact somewhat.
  • If your motorhome has air bags release the air so that you have less bounce.
  • Park next to a wall or hillside to potentially lessen wind impact.
  • Move your rig if you are parked under trees. This is VITAL. Limbs have gone through the roofs of rigs many a time, creating major damage and/or totaling a rig. 

It took tornado force winds to topple the RV's below, at a dealership.

Most of them survived only because they were sheltered by the building.

Notice how the exposed trailers are the ones that tipped over.

If you know there's a tornado in your area, you should try to get to a more secure shelter!

Driving your RV in the wind is another story.

This article is only about being stationary in wind.

You should avoid driving in high winds, especially if you are going to be hit broadside by the wind.

A vehicle in motion is subject to different aerodynamic forces and you don't really want to be hit broadside by a 60 mile an hour gust of wind when you are traveling at freeway speeds.

Bottom line is be aware that you are in a slab-sided box on wheels. 

Strong wind hitting the side of your rig has the potential to make things interesting.

Do what you can to avoid having high winds hit the side of your RV.

Now, go camp in peace, once you find a nice tall stable building to park your rig next to...

Kelly Headshot

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona. 

Other Articles You Should Read

  • In addition to your recommendations. I would suggest filling up your tanks with water. Let your sinks fill the gray tanks. Fill up your water tank, etc. The extra weight low to the ground is like ballast to a ship.

    • Hey J,

      Well, can’t say we disagree with this. One must imagine that every little bit of help, helps. Thank you for the tip!

      Cheers!

  • At the risk of being, I mean, sounding like a snob, we have an Airstream and appreciate its aerodynamic properties, properties attested to by our son-in-law who possesses a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering, a diploma he proudly displays in the bathroom above the toilet.

    Having lived and camped for six decades in the deciduous forests of the east, it is not the wind that concerns us but, as mentioned in your article, the results of forceful winds, such as falling tree limbs. We always look at the canopy above so as to assess the safety of the understory. Even our better than anyone else’s travel trailer, as attested to by our smarter than anyone else’s son-in-law, will not protect us from projectiles.

    Thanks for the informative article and fact informed attachment.

    • Hi Jfreeham!

      What a well-written and comical reply! Thank you for that. 😁

      I couldn’t agree more… I am parked out in the open 97% of the time. I can remember only a handful of times I was under any trees. And it’s always disconcerting!

      And yes, an Airstream is going to have much less chance of tipping over in high winds than say a fifth wheel will. Another Airstream benefit!

      Anyhoo, I even have friends who have had limbs penetrate their trailer. It’s pretty horrifying! No staying under trees for me, no thanks! Heck, it doesn’t even have to be windy for a limb to fall. So yes, very good idea to look at what you’re under and look for dead/decaying limbs that may be on their way out.

      Thank YOU for the comment! A fun one, indeed.

  • This is something that I haven’t even considered. As a soon to be new RV owner this is great information. The more informed a person is, the better one can prepared for such a situation. Better to be informed and prepared than face the event panicking and in fear while scrambling to figure out what to do.
    Thank you for such an informative article.

    • Hi Dan,

      True, better to be informed, always! Just hope this didn’t scare you at all. Still, hopefully if you find yourself intercepting with a big storm, you will know what to do and not to do.

      Cheers and safe travels!

  • You have a good head on your shoulders and very wise comments Think you for your viewpoints Good luck and be safe this hope to see you out in the road sometime
    The more tools you have in your tool Box the better you will be .

    • Hi Mark,

      Yep, knowledge is power! “The more you know”… just like the commercials in between shows when I was a kid. Maybe you remember those.

      Thank you for the kudos. It’s much appreciated!

      Stay safe and happy camping!

  • I anchored mine to the ground myself here in North Carolina. I kind of seemed like a no brainer for camper/rv owners. ????????‍♀️

  • What’s your advice we have a 40′ elkridge in west texas we cant hookup an move it with wind change but I’m always scared when its rela windy. Help!

    • Hi Shan,

      I’m sure it can get pretty windy out there. But 99.9 percent of the time, you’re going to be ok. It can get really scary when it’s windy out. I remember my first SUPER windy night. I was out completely in the open. It sure felt like I could flip at any moment. But now I am used to how it feels when it’s really windy.

      I’ve never come close to tipping. None of my friends have, either. You’re looking at tornado winds to flip you over. Well, you’re not LOOKING for them, lol!

      Don’t worry. 99% chance or so that you will NOT flip. I have not heard of anyone flipping while stationary unless it was a tornado.

      You’ll be fine. But get out to a safe places if there’s a tornado warning.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      We are unable to give you maximum wind velocities that a particular vehicle is able to withstand.

      The point of this article is to discuss theoretical maximum winds a travel trailer can withstand. And to let you know that you might want to be somewhere else if high winds are forecast.

  • I am in my RV right now and the wind gust are above 65 and 70 mph I’m really scared I live in my rv I have had this happen before but not this much wind I feel like I’m going to tip over , this is a very dangerous situation I’m
    In right now and there’s nothing I can do , but wait oh my god

  • Hi we are waiting for Hurricane Dorian we just bought the RV and I have the slides out and the levelers down and we’re hooked up to water what do I need to do to prepare for Dorian

    • Hi Melody,

      Neither Kelly nor I have experience waiting out a hurricane. We would get the heck out and not stick around for the main event.

      You might want to contact local RV dealerships to see what they do to their rigs in preparation for a storm of this magnitude. Unfortunately we don’t have any advice (other then get out) as we have zero experience in this area.

    • I’m also waiting for Dorian in Homestead. I have a 30 foot motor home. As of right now I’m staying, but I do have plans in place if it gets bad. I’m more worried about the flooding. Good luck and stay safe. If you’re around Homestead/Cutler Bay Area and need anything let me know.

    • Good article.

      We have been living in our RV for two years now while we self-build our home (eastern NC). We have survived Florence and Michael, now waiting for Dorian.

      This is what we have done/do for our Montana (BR3950)

      1. Fill up RV tanks (Fresh, Grey, Black
      2. Make sure your RV is nose into the wind.
      3. Keep it connected to tow vehicle (we have F350 dually)
      4. We pull in bedroom and office slide outs, and have quick release bungie cords securing the slide toppers of our main living area. If weather deteriorates then we pull them in.
      5. We are in a permanent location so we also have mobile home tiedowns 5ft into ground, we strap over the RV at the front and back, once RV is connected to truck and keep stabilizers down.
      6. Have everything else prepped (Generator, water, food, fuel, and make sure there is no flying debris/trees near by).
      7. Good Luck.

    • That will definitely help lower the center of gravity, especially with large holding tanks. I assume you are hooked up to a water supply when you are doing this? Otherwise you’re gonna end up giving your water pump one heck of a work out (not to mention needing to fill up your fresh water tank multiple times).

  • I live in Webb City Missouri in a 24 ft couchman lite with one slide will my camper stand winds up to 50/55 mph???

    • Hi Jennifer,

      As the blog post points out, there are many variables when it comes to how much wind an RV can withstand. We cannot say yes or no (nor can anyone). We recommend you follow the recommendations in this blog post when it comes to high winds. And most importantly, use common sense.

      Here’s to keeping the dirty side up!

  • My 33’ Gulfstream travel trailer which weighs about 11,000 lbs is sitting in an RV Park. Currently in Texas, I’m unable to go get it. Fortunately, my neighbor disconnected the water hose, the cable and electrical wire. Although my awning is retracted, my slides are extended out. With Hurricane Michael coming packing high winds, what are the chances of my trailer sustaining damage?

    • Hi Aaron,

      It’s really too late at this point for us to advise as Michael has come and gone mostly, making its way up the coast right now. We are sorry we weren’t more prompt in answering comments. You did not mention where the RV was parked. So now we are curious- where was it and did you sustain any damage?

  • question: what about tie-downs or stakes, such as the ones used on mobile homes? would those help to keep things settled?

    • I’m not familiar with what you are referring to as I’ve never owned or lived in a mobile home. However I’d imagine that they aren’t really designed for temporary use as you’d want for an RV.

  • As a new owner of an Aliner Popup, I have been told the big danger is wind during setting up -taking down. With the triangle sides are down, wind goes “through” the popup, lifting and tearing off the two roofs. Or, in a windstorm, if the sides aren’t secured , they can drop and break off. As for hail, well it’s the kiss of death for all campers until someone makes an RV out of Kevlar.

    • Hey Donald,

      Ah, yes, I can totally see how that would be an issue with an Aliner. ???? Something to keep in mind if it’s windy out. Could make for some ‘fun’ times!

      Hail definitely can mess up the plastic bits on the top of the roof, and if large enough, the non-plastic bits. I really hope to never experience having my skylight turn into a sunroof. There are some things in life I’ll be beyond fine if I never experience.

      Thanks for the comment and Camp On!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    >
    Send this to a friend