Southwest snowbirds — Beware the wind of many names

Southwest snowbirds — Beware the wind of many names

By Bob Difley

When snowbirding in the Southwestern deserts this winter, be careful not to allow yourself to be lulled into complacency when you take off for a day of exploration and the desert is calm with nary a breeze. Desert winds (also called chubascos, Santa Anas and dust devils) can come up quickly and unexpectedly – and blow strongly for both a brief period and for hours. 

Take some time before you leave to set up some precautionary measures that may prevent you coming back to a wind-caused disaster:

  • Secure your awning arms with anchored stakes, tie downs, and de-flappers before you leave your rig for any length of time. The stakes should be buried securely into the ground, though in some desert terrain the loose sand and gravel soil will not provide a secure hold or the hardpan may prevent digging into it. You may need to put heavy sandbags or rocks on the anchors to prevent them pulling out or you may return to find the canvas flapping in the wind. Otherwise you will have to roll up your awning every time you leave.
  • If you are boondocking in an area with non-designated campsites, try to position your rig so that one side faces into the prevailing wind, leaving the other side in the lee. When you leave, make sure all windows on the windy side are closed tightly – I repeat, tightly – since any openings to windward will allow blowing sand to enter and you will end up with a fine layer of sand over everything. Open louvered windows on the lee side for air circulation and to help reduce the inside temperature.
  • Towels hung out to dry, un-anchored carpets or mats, aluminum camp chairs, and any other lightweight items, if not secured, may end up snagged in a mesquite tree or blown several dozen yards across the desert from a sudden wind.
  • Listen regularly to the weather reports for any unusual wind predictions – wind speeds over about 30 or 35 mph. This should signal your early return to secure your rig.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.

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3 thoughts on “Southwest snowbirds — Beware the wind of many names

  1. CB Roberts

    Almost all awning companies tell you in their owner’s manual to never leave your awning out. We saw how many RVs leave their awnings out and tied down all the time so we also chose to ignore the manufacturer. We had a shade hanging from the awning and staked it all down securely. A gust of wind came up and bent the metal frame of our awning (well known brand) and loosened bolts securing awning frame to motorhome. We have seen others have similar experience. One RV had the awning torn loose from the RV and blown up and over the roof. Read the owner’s manual and never leave your awning out and unattended – securing with stakes only make the damages worse.

  2. Larry

    Many weather apps have a notification setting that you can set to alert if strong winds are expected that day. You can set the alert for wind speed and the time of day to notify you. I have mine set to 7AM. Of course this isn’t failsafe and you should stil take precautions but does help to remind you before you leave.

  3. Tommy Molnar

    When we head off to do some exploring, we always (as in NEVER NOT) roll up our awning. Then we stow most everything else under the trailer. PITA, but it keeps our “stuff” from blowing away.

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