I wanted to write a note about camping during tornado season, as the spring camping season has arrived. We have experienced camping during a tornado and had to leave the camper in the middle of the night to take shelter. Camping in bad weather can be scary, especially if don’t have a solid shelter to take cover in. A travel trailer is not a safe shelter, when it comes to tornados. A tornado could rip through a travel trailer like any old garden shed in your backyard. You need to know where your nearest storm or tornado shelter is at if you choose to go camping in the spring, especially in the midwest or plains states.
We were camping at Lake Wappapello State Park, in Missouri in the spring of 2009 when a tornado touched down about 4 miles from the park. We had just settled down to bed as the wind and rain was picking up, and the campground host knocked on the door. There were very few campers in the park and he had remembered seeing us drive in with the kids. He came to let us know that a tornado warning had just been issued, with a tornado spotted west of the park and headed our way.
We immediately grabbed the kids, jumped in the Jeep and drove up to the restroom facilities. We figured the cinder block and pine log building was the safest place to be. The restroom building actually had a laundry room in the center that we took shelter in. It was quite the experience. We were soaked just going from the jeep to the shelter. We had Reid (9 months old) in his car seat and Kyle (2 years old) laid on the floor in a blanket. Thankfully both kids were tired enough to fall asleep. We were able to get some intermittent cell service to track the weather on my cell phone. The tornado ended up passing us about 4 miles to the north. We stayed in the shelter for a couple of hours until things settled down and the weather forecasts were clear.
We were so thankful that the host stopped to give us the warning. Even though the tornado didn’t come through the park, we were able to get our kids out of harms way in case it did. We now carry a crank weather radio with us, so we can get weather warnings, even if there is no cell service or electricity. Things become a little more real and scary when your kids are with you and we have become more aware of the weather and our surroundings while camping.
At any rate, I wanted to share this story with you as a reminder to watch the weather when you are headed out for some spring camping. Always be aware of where the nearest shelters are at and don’t hesitate to take shelter if the weather is looking scary. The bathhouses are the most likely place that you can take shelter at in the park. Many people have smart phones now days that will give you notifications of severe weather, but you should still get a specific weather radio. You can’t always count on having cell service, especially enough to transmit data. Get yourself a crank weather radio so you can get weather updates.
If you have some other safety ideas or have had the same experiences, I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below.
We own the American Red Cross FRX3 Crank Radio
Here are some other FRX radio options: