How Much Wind Does It Take To Flip An RV?Anthony Day
Have you ever been driving down the highway being battered by the wind in your RV and wondered how much wind it takes to flip a moving RV?
Or you had reached your campsite safely, parked your RV, and been sitting inside when a strong gust of wind rocked the RV almost to capsize? That can be a terrifying experience, and it will make you wonder how hard the wind needs to blow to flip a stationary RV?
A 30mph wind hitting an RV on the highway makes driving hazardous, while winds over 53mph can flip a parked RV if it hits broadside. Even with stabilizers and anchors, the wind resistance created by the shape of the RV will be too strong to avoid capsizing.
Due to the shape of an RV, wind forces, whether head-on or side-on, pose a threat to these vehicles, and if strong enough, they can flip the vehicle. Understanding how the wind affects an RV while moving and stationary and knowing what you can do to prevent your RV from being flipped over in the wind could save lives and avoid damage to your vehicle.
We will look at some proven scientific techniques based on extensive research that you can employ to defend yourself and the RV against the wind threat, whether moving or stationary.
How The Wind Affects Moving RVs
Driving on the highway in an RV is often a relatively uneventful experience until the wind gets up. With headwinds, the effect on the RV is not as evident as with winds that hit broadside.
RVs are not the most aerodynamically designed vehicles, built more for comfort than speed, and their large surface areas, especially on the sides, make them vulnerable to wind forces.
Head-on, the wind is more likely to affect speed and fuel consumption than contribute to a capsize, but if the wind is coming broadside even at relatively low speeds, the effect on control can be significant.
A wind of just ten mph hitting an RV broadside at highway speeds can adversely affect driving ability and control. At 20mph, driving becomes severely impaired, and at 30mph, driving is very hazardous and could result in loss of control, capsize and impact.
The other problem with the wind hitting the RV is that gusts can be higher than the average wind speed and are undetectable until they collide, at which point, it's too late to react, and it becomes a case of survival on the road.
RVs are far more vulnerable to the effects of wind when they are moving than when they are parked, so the best thing to do if you are on the highway in high winds is to slow down and then park facing into the wind to reduce the effect.
Once parked, it will be safe to wait until the winds have died down before driving again, or you can slow down to mitigate the effect and resume regular speed once the winds have abated.
How The Winds Affect Stationary RVs
Parked RVs are far more wind resistant than those in motion, which is evident by the much higher wind force that RVs can endure when parked. A 30mph wind could cause capsize when moving, while it would take 53mph or higher wind to flip a parked RV when hit side-on.
The main reason for this is that the aerodynamic forces that act around and under an RV in motion don't have the same force on an RV that is parked and secured. The other factor is the weight of the RV contributes to greater stability when stationary while contributing to instability when moving.
It is also easier to determine which way the wind is blowing at campgrounds and the park the RV facing the wind head-on to reduce the impact. If you cannot park facing the wind, you can at least park at an angle to the wind, which will offset the wind force effects.
How To Protect Your Parked RV Against High Winds
You can take steps to protect your RV from flip over and structural damage where high winds are a factor.
Once parked, make sure you deploy the stabilizers to create more significant ground contact and stability.
Secondly, level out the RV's weight and make sure you have an even weight distribution to reduce the risk of imbalance. Combining balanced weight and stabilizers will reduce the risk of wind damage or capsize considerably.
Positioning your RV, so the wind does not hit broadside is also advisable, as discussed earlier, and this would apply whether the RV is a motorhome, fifth-wheel trailer, or travel trailer.
Another idea is to hitch the RV to the tow vehicle where applicable, as the tow vehicle's additional weight will add more resistance and make sure they are both parked facing into the wind.
You can also use the tow vehicle as a buffer or shield against the wind by parking it between the RV and the wind direction and even use a hill or wall as a shield if there is one you can park against.
Another idea here is to retract the awnings and any slide-outs that may protrude from the RV to provide wind resistance and close the windows and vents to keep the air pressure stable.
This will allow the wind to wrap around the RV's exterior rather than flow through it, decreasing the effect of the wind force. It should also be noted that heavier RVs are more stable and less likely to be flipped over in high winds.
If your RV is fully stocked with water, food, camping gear, and furniture, this will all add to the overall weight of the vehicle, making it that much heavier and more stable in high winds and on the road; just make sure you pack it evenly, so the weight creates a more robust center of gravity.
Does The Shape Of The RV Matter
As aerodynamics go, the RV is about as functional as a brick. The older ones, especially the Winnebagos and others with long rectangular box-shaped cabs, were (and still are) highly vulnerable to the effects of the wind.
The newer designs like the Airstream make better use of aerodynamic streaming and create less surface area and better airflow over the body to reduce the effects of the wind.
So, yes, the shape matters. If you consider buying an RV or trading up the old one, find a newer model with improved aerodynamics.
About THE AUTHOR
Hi, my name is Anthony, and RVs are what I'm passionate about. I bought my first RV when I was 21, and I've been hooked ever since. I'll guide you on how they work, how they can be used in different environments, and how they fit into our everyday lives.Read More About Anthony Day