It’s five in the morning, an hour before my normal wake-up hour, and Richard and I are sitting out here in the living room watching the storm. We couldn’t sleep anymore due to the very loud and very close lighting strikes. As you can see from the radar, it’s pretty darn huge, and it’s been moving slower than we thought based on the weather forecast from last night.
Here’s the radar from last night, around 10:20 pm when we went to bed.[/caption]The storm is now moving in a north, north-east direction, sticking us with some red and yellow bits for a while yet. This was exactly why we decided not to go all the way to Mandeville, on the north side of Lake Ponchartrain outside of New Orleans. Not only did we think it wouldn’t be a great idea to explore New Orleans in the rain, we also weren’t sure of the amenities at Fountainebleau State Park, the campground we’d decided on in the area.
So, the decision to stay here and wait it out was probably a good one from a travel perspective. Our choice of sites, however, was probably not a good one, from a tornado perspective. We are out of the lake’s flood plain (that I can tell, although massive flooding could reach us from here), but here in the New Campground area of the park, there isn’t a storm shelter very close by. The closest is in the area they call the Second Loop, which was packed with RVs on Monday, and didn’t have any spots available for a coach our size.
There was a tornado watch issued for Hattiesburg at 3:00 am this morning, and there still is a one for the area until 9:00 am. Which brings me to two points: having a weather radio or app, and what to do in case of a tornado.
Even when I was tent camping, I always carried a weather radio with me into the forest. Now we have a weather radio combined with our walkie talkies, and I have an app called Weather Alerts on my phone. The app gives the same sound the weather radio or the television would, and woke me up at 3:00 am when the first tornado alert was issued. It is my opinion that no RVer should be without some kind of system like this. We use the app primarily, but we have the weather radio on the walkie talkies for emergency use, such as when the power goes out and my phone battery dies.
I think we’re pretty well prepared to be made aware of bad weather, or a tornado specifically, but what do you do if there is a tornado near you while you’re in an RV? In our sticks and bricks, we new exactly what to do. Go to an interior location, low to the ground, putting as many walls between you and the outside of your house as possible. The news last night had a new one for me: wear helmets if you’ve got them. Stay away from windows. Go to a storm shelter if there is one nearby.
But there really is no place in the motor home that puts multiple exterior walls between us and the tornado. The only place I can think of is the bathroom area, but it’s got a lot of glass in there. If we’d been near the shelter, I might have gotten Richard up and moved us there when the 3:00 am alert sounded. So, I went back to sleep. Was that the right thing to do? Not sure. We didn’t get picked up and thrown to Oz while we were sleeping, so it worked out. This time.
I’d love to hear about any of your stories or advice on what to do when a tornado alert sounds and you’re living in an RV.