Here’s the best advice I can think of: Either drive until you’re not in the path of one, or stay somewhere other than the RV for the duration. Right now I find myself not being able to take the former advice, and so I have taken the later. Still, even though I myself am currently quite safe behind 4 secure walls, there were some things I needed to do to keep my Casita as secure as possible to ride out the storm. If you ever find yourself in a similar unfortunate situation, I hope this will help you out.
- If you have the time and space to maneuver, park your RV facing into the wind. You’ll get much less rocking and shaking front to back than you do side to side. If things get really bad, like 70 mph bad, I would think you’d be less like to tip over. Cas is pointed SE to NW, and the wind is coming from the NNW, so while my parking job isn’t perfect, it’s a lot better than the wind hitting the RV broadside.
- Drain your gray and black tanks, then unplug and store your water and sewer hoses. Even if temperatures aren’t all that low or the storm isn’t expected to last long, strong winds will make hoses and tanks freeze up faster than calm winds will. I put my water hose and external water filter inside the RV to stay warm, a frozen water filter has a tendency to burst and be not so good at filtering water next time you need it to, I know from experience.
- Seal up any holes that horizontally blowing snow could find it’s way into. I put a cover over my A/C grate, latched my stove and fantastic fans shut, and taped plastic around where my electric hose enters into the RV.
- Secure everything outside that has even the slightest potential to blow away. Strap awnings closed, make sure wheel and propane bottle covers are securely buckled on, move all outdoor furniture into storage.
- Remove snow from the roof as soon as the weather permits. Subfreezing temps outside combined with a heater running inside gives an ideal recipe for snow to turn to ice on the roof, and ice can work its way into seems on a RV roof and cause leaks down the road.
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The wind is
whistling howling screaming through the cracks in the door of the old motel room I have taken shelter in while the Black Hills and western plains of South Dakota sit under a blizzard warning. The whole thing built up pretty suddenly. On the first day of the government shutdown, a peek at the forecast brought up an advisory from the national weather service that a storm was brewing and the Black Hills would be receiving an indeterminate amount of snow, and the plains of Pennington county might get something as well, forecasters weren’t sure what or how much.
Later that evening, the forecast was calling for 2-4 inches of snow here in the Badlands. On Wednesday, the number jumped to 3-6 inches. Yesterday morning I awoke to a red banner parading across the top of my iphone’s weather app: Blizzard Warning, 7-15 inches of snow by tomorrow morning, winds at 35-55 mph with gusts up to 70 mph possible. Yikes.
Since congress has yet to come to a conclusion on the budget, Cedar Pass Lodge has shut down for the season, but that doesn’t mean that I’m out of work luckily (or perhaps unluckily right now, as that means I’m still here facing a blizzard instead of in more hospitable environs). All of the merchandise left in the gift shop needs to be inventoried and packed away for the winter, a job that will probably take until the 15th which was my last day of work anyway. So those of us left have been keeping an eye on the forecast while we go about securing the Lodge.
It’s been… odd, working inside a park that has been shut down. People still call the Lodge regularly and ask if we’re open and taking reservations (no.). A park ranger needs to hang around on site every day to clear out the people who try to park along the side of the road and walk in to the scenic overlooks and trail heads which have been blocked off by cones. Yesterday we had a bus load of tourists pull into the parking lot and get out to take pictures. A few came to peek in the doors but the signs are posted right there plain as day: “Due to the federal government shutdown, this National Park concession facility has been closed.” We slinked around behind the shuttered windows, hoping nobody from the bus would see us and start pounding on the doors to be let it. It’s been a complete 180 in our role: instead of welcoming people to the Badlands, we’re chasing them out. It feels so wrong.
Last night after work I made three trips from the Casita to room 18 of the Badlands Inn, the motel owned by my currently employer that my little RV has been parked behind for the past two weeks after Circle 10 shut down for the season. I had every intention of spending the rest of the season in Cas despite having access to a room at the Inn that I could be living in but have only been using for the shower up until now. But even though I could stand the cold and the snow in the RV, the strong winds worried me: all that rocking around would make it impossible to sleep as I wonder if the next strong gust will knock me over. Being in the Inn won’t keep the wind from knocking the Casita over, but at least I won’t be woken up worrying about the possibility with every boat-like roll. I’m happy to report that as of now, 5 pm, Cas is holding up fine in the wind and I have found no leaks associated with horizontally blowing rain and snow. I’ll only be in the motel room until the bad weather is past, then it’s back home.
Let me say here that moving is the pits. Lugging stuff in and out of the truck, up and down stairs, trying to remember what all you need to spend a day in relative comfort, it’s a huge hassle. I think a lot of people would raise an eyebrow when I say I hate moving considering how much I travel, but the beauty of living in a RV is everything you need moves with you, no packing or unpacking required. I definitely don’t miss this staying in motels and carrying things around with you business.
But when you’re put in a less than ideal situation, make the best of it. Last night I had TV for the first time in years, and the novelty of television has kept me amused. I wrote some suggestions for things to do on a rainy day before, and that stuff still holds true even for blizzards it turns out. I’m taking things pretty easy today, taking care of a few things online and enjoying my mini vacation (we were told not to come in to work today). There’s just something cozy about watching a storm rage outside while you’re safe and warm inside. While there’s been plenty of rain, then ice pellets (with thunder) and now snow, there isn’t much accumulation yet, although the strong winds are a force to be reckoned with and the power has gone out twice so far but come back on both times.
The majority of the snow should be falling tonight, and continuing into tomorrow morning before warming temperatures turn it back to rain and I’m hoping to get some nice snow pictures before that happens. The next few days after tomorrow are going to be warmer, so it won’t be sticking around – which is good for me because while I actually kind of like snow, I don’t particularly like towing in it.
Here’s hoping your weekend looks drier, warmer, and less windy than mine does!
Note: The post after this one (Blizzard Weekend) concludes this interesting chapter.
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First image courtesy of Micky**, others taken by me.