Thursday, September 21, 2023



Worries about tornadoes, and a video of RVs getting blown over

By Chuck Woodbury

I have never before spent this time of the year in the Midwest. I never thought anything about monster lightning storms, golf-ball-sized hail storms and tornadoes. We don’t have those in the West. We have earthquakes. But for me, having been in a dozen earthquakes and never having a problem except a touch of motion sickness two times, I don’t even think about them.

But tornadoes! Those really scare me. A tornado watch was issued the other night for where I am near Joplin, Missouri. Gail and I monitored the storm on our iPhones, and our little Midland Weather Radio screamed its siren a few times when the threat got closer. But on this day, no tornadoes touched down. But the storm itself, which threatened to spawn a tornado, came very close to us, within about five miles. It got closest at about 11 p.m. How are you supposed to sleep through that when you’re inside a tin can with wheels?

Then the next day, this video showed up on my Google news alerts. Yikes! 

I’ll be in tornado-land for another few months. Why do people live here? Okay, I know. . . the chance of being hit by a tornado is tiny. . . and this is your home, and. . . yes, I get all that. Still, for someone not accustomed to such dramatic weather, it’s not a 100 percent warm and fuzzy feeling being here.

FOX10 News | WALA


Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


  1. I think you people should avoid the Midwest. You are better off in 400 mile wide hurricanes, thousands of acre wild fire, earth quakes, dust storms, mud slides, rock slides , dust storms and floods. Paul

  2. I too grew up in tornado alley. I would much rather deal with a tornado, which you can see coming, than an earthquake! I did disaster duty in California when the Northridge earthquake hit – no fun, and nowhere to get away from it.

    Two years ago we ran into a tornado near Wall SD. We made it to the rest area and stayed in the concrete restrooms with 50 new friends, 3 dogs, and a ferret. Most left after the hail stopped, we waited until morning. We passed 7 semis on their sides, and a silo that was smashed to the ground not far from where we were. We still travel to the Midwest in the summer to visit family, but seek shelter (other than the coach) when a tornado is sighted. We have a “bugout bag” packed and ready to go in the front of the coach.

  3. Since 1997 (missed only a few times) we have traveled from Calif to the Indianapolis 500, which is over Memorial Day weekend. We have gone the northern & southern routes. Only one time did we use the shelter, the concrete bathrooms, at an RV park. This was in Greenfield, IN off I-70. We had been checking the weather, which wasn’t good, driving from Kentucky up I-65. Once we got to RV park we asked where shelter was. We set up & hooked up our Weather warning radio & turned on local tv. Entire state of Indiana was red. We made a go bag of all our valuables & electronics. I took a video of the interior of RV, just incase. At one point we were getting call outs over the radio of the exits as a tornado was moving parallel to I-65. When we heard exit numbers about 5 miles away, we grabbed our stuff and headed to the bathrooms. Along the way we knocked on RV’s to warn people not listening. Some people were walking their dogs and looked at us like we were crazy. Didn’t care. We met a few other couples so it fun. Then all heck broke out. Thunder, lightning, wind, downpour. Tornado avoided us. Hit a few miles away and damaged a town. I’m glad we went to shelter. If we had been in motorhome I would have been scared & not known what to do. One other time we were on the west side of Indianapolis, in Crawfordsville. Again, the whole state of Indiana was red. Went to office & asked the owner, a old curmudgeon who was hoot, where to go in case of tornado. He said “I’ve been here 20 years and never seen one tornado, but if you are worried you can go down the embankment and lay by the creek, I guess. I’ll be right here”. There have been other times it’s been close we just adjust our travel. Last year we checked in outside of Chattanooga, Tn & said we wanted to reserve a second night just in case. We ended up using it, because we didn’t like what we were hearing & seeing on the news. Good thing. A band of tornados were moving west to east straight thru I-65 through 3 states and did lots of damage. Just have to be smart…..and pray :-).

  4. Question: In high winds from a storm, would it be better to pull the slides in or leave them out on a fifth-wheel? Of course, find solid shelter if possible.

  5. Always scares the hell out of me going through tornado alley in the spring; I avoid it if I can, if not I get through there as fast as I can. I really feel for those people who in RVs who have to be there.

  6. I grew up in Tornado Alley. I survived the gigantic tornado that flattened Toledo, OH in 1963–it skipped over our house and threw the rest of Toledo into Lake Erie! I will never forget the sound. That’s why you won’t be seeing me at the RVillage rally in Elkhart. Between April and July, the Midwest is closed, as far as I’m concerned. Very considerate of God to make “tornado season,” because we know not to go there then. OK, the gargantuan Joplin storm was in January (how abnormal can things get???) and you just can’t predict weirdo things like that…but we know darn well that April, May, and June are the “normal” tornado months, so we can plan. Birdie, the first commenter above, has excellent advice for how to prepare, if you absolutely must be in the Mysterious Midwest (or Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida….) in tornado season. Don’t think you can ride out a twister in a tin can.

    • Laura, I grew up in Oklahoma in tornado alley. I left there in my early 20’s and moved to Arizona. I don’t miss the cellars I spent time in during my childhood. I stay away from the Midwest during the tornado season. My greatest fear is to be caught in my motorhome and seeing one coming my way with nowhere to run. I want be at the Elkhart rally either.

  7. If you live in tornado alley, you watch and listen for the storm warnings/watches. Always ask where storm shelters are when you change campgrounds and go find them right after setup…..don’t wait. You can’t afford that luxury. Have your emergency bag with meds, water, flashlight, weather radio w/extra batteries, important things like drivers license, ins cards, passport, extra money, water and snacks and rain jacket and shoes at the rig door. If things are heating up and coming your way, pick up the bag and go to the cg shelter before the siren sounds. Sirens normally means ‘imminent’ danger. You should be ready to step in the shelter at siren. My travels thru the tornado alley normally starts mid to end June when most of the severe weather is over. Unfortunately, you might be living in a terrified state for the next 6 weeks. And remember while in those cgs with those folks that you can educate the idiots but you can’t fix stupid.

    • Birdie, what about being on the interstate unable to turn around and seeing one coming at you? I chose to just stay the hell out of that part of the US during the summer months.


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