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Severe Weather - How to Prepare / How to Survive

Old 11-25-16, 08:33 PM
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AdvXtrm
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Severe Weather - How to Prepare / How to Survive

Almost a worse case scenario basically. What if you are caught out on your way on your bike to your destination, no shelter in sight, or you already have your tent setup somewhere, and something like this rolls on-top of you? I suppose not many tents, let alone any lightweight ones could withstand such a storm, and if there is one, it would cost more money than most could or would want to spend.

Is there anywhere to even be prepared for such a storm, or at least what could possibly be done to minimize damage and survive? Is there a tent light enough for reasonably carry that could withstand such an onslaught?

Here's one example of the level of storm I'm talking about:

And here's another that looks even worse: The initial laughing and cheering soon turned into terror, tears, and sorrow. There were 5 fatalities here.
"People were trying to get out of this tent that collapsed by using their pocket knives and cutting holes in the fabric."

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Old 11-25-16, 10:33 PM
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Super-storms announce their presence in advance. The only reason to be in a tent during a storm like that is poor decision making. Oh look, a music festival, what a surprise!

Bus stops, train stations, libraries, parking structures, and even baseball dugouts all make good temporary shelters until a storm blows over. If you're in a country that is about to experience a multi-day storm event, you'll know in advance and it's time to find a hotel or a room.

If I was stuck out in a horrific storm event, and for some reason I could not get to any manmade structure for defense, I would find some high ground (not "highest" ground if there's lightning) and shelter against something solid, like a rock face or wall, and wrap myself in my sleeping bag and tent fabric and hunker down for a bivy. No sense in setting up the tent only to have it shredded.
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Old 11-25-16, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by AdvXtrm View Post
I suppose not many tents, let alone any lightweight ones could withstand such a storm, and if there is one, it would cost more money than most could or would want to spend.
Actually almost all the tents visible in the videos, despite generally being fairly flimsy models, hold up reasonably well. The only thing that completely collapses is the open-air cover over the organizer's table which is not too surprising.

Most lightweight, backpacking style tents are more resistant to wind with less area and better tie-down options than the tents I see in these videos. And even if a tent collapses, it still provides a reasonably waterproof shelter for you in which to ride out the storm.

Sure there could be life-threatening storms, but I don't see these videos as examples. One would be a tornado that could certainly pick up you and your tent and send them flying - but one did that to our house years ago, so being at home is no guarantee of safety. Another would be a storm near a body of water that sends a storm surge your way. Seeking higher ground would be advised if that's a possibility.
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Old 11-26-16, 12:06 AM
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Every storm is different, but keep in mind, that excluding extreme cold and/or snow, most storms aren't fatal to humans. It's not the storm that kills it's loose crap flying around.

Decades ago when I was crewing on a large schooner, the skipper passed along a bit of wisdom. "the time to reef a sail is when you first think about it". Of course this was AFTER we blew out out largest light wind sail, as the puffs got a bit worse.

So, the same lessons apply to anyone out in the weather. Assume and plan for the worst, that means striking and stowing those large display tents, weighting or tying down anything loose, and moving to secure shelter in the lee of solid stuff.

The specifics of what you need to do depend on where you are, what kind of equipment you're using, and what kind of storm. If you're in an open area, modern tents can handle high winds pretty well if they're oriented correctly and staked down securely. If you can't trust the tent, hunker down in a hollow, or to the lee of a ledge, boulder or even a car.

Or just move elsewhere. With early warning, mobility is your friend, and getting away from the storm track, or at least to a safer place to weather it is your best option.
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Old 11-26-16, 12:51 AM
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Way back when, there were radios to tell you of an impending storm ... or you talked to people in shops or at campgrounds ... or you paid attention to the clouds and surrounding weather. Now we still have all that and laptops and smartphones.
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Old 11-26-16, 12:55 AM
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It also helps to have a reserve of money so you can catch a train, rent a car, or get indoor accommodation if necessary.
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Old 11-26-16, 04:00 AM
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I would never deliberately get caught in such a violent storm, but there are times when even the forecasts are wrong, and suddenly, in the middle of the night, all hell breaks loose. I suppose in such a situation you are just SOL. Some places have very erratic and at times severe weather changes happen quickly.

I'm about ready to buy a tent, and I'd like to find one that would at least have a better chance at withstanding more severe weather, but not weigh too much or cost too much either. Not sure what fair weight would be for a tent on a bicycle. As for cost, I want to keep it under $500, and of course the less expensive the better, provided I'm not loosing out on structural integrity and weather resistance. Once I set out, I'll be on the road for quite some time. I have no car, and no money for hotels and such. I'm going to start a new thread for advice on a tent for myself right now.

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Old 11-26-16, 04:43 AM
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I wonder how many posters here, and even moreso, those who put up journals on CGOAB, have been struck by such severe weather conditions while on tour.

I know that despite some very strong winds and/or heavy downpours and/or snow, I haven't had any issues with my tents which have been three-season ones.

Mind you,I do make sure the extra guys are staked out irrespective of the weather that might be expected overnight.

Safety in the face of seriously bad weather depends greatly on awareness, seeking out forecasts, and, as always, keeping an eye out for escape plans and alternative safe shelters, some of which have been suggested by other posters, including some very good ones by mdilthey.
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Old 11-26-16, 04:44 AM
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Might be beneficial to get a part time job to supplement your income before you go so that you do have funds for emergencies. You just never know.
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Old 11-26-16, 05:02 AM
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Good info, and thanks. Machka, I'm working on trying to ensure there are some financial resources available for emergencies.
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Old 11-26-16, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I wonder how many posters here, and even moreso, those who put up journals on CGOAB, have been struck by such severe weather conditions while on tour.
Blurry, but hail up to the size of golf balls in SD two years ago. I was sure it was going to rip the fly, but the tent performed well. I was pitched under a small tree, which I think helped.
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Old 11-26-16, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by AdvXtrm View Post
Good info, and thanks. Machka, I'm working on trying to ensure there are some financial resources available for emergencies.
Good. When I was finishing my x-country+ tour I was camping the morning hurricane Floyd moved through NY and NJ. Had to ride a few miles through the early wind and rain to take shelter in a motel.
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Old 11-26-16, 10:53 AM
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Don't be too worried about those videos. Avoid tent cities. There's no way to pitch a tent correctly in crowded conditions like that. Storm guys need lots more room.

Get a quality tent and pitch it well in a good site safe from tree fall and flooding ("look up, look down, look around"). Bring extra guy line and stakes. And of course pay attention to weather forecasts.
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Old 11-26-16, 10:58 AM
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Advx, you're the motorcycle crash guy right? I gather you haven't camped a lot in your life because storms that are life threatening are extremely rare and reasonably made tents by established tent companies generally handle high winds quite well, especially when put up properly.

In the big scheme of things, this is a not a real danger, getting hit by a car or rv by someone not paying attention is waaaay higher on the scale of things to be concerned about and to be constantly vigilant about.
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Old 11-26-16, 11:32 AM
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Weather happens. Keep an eye on the weather and take shelter. A few years ago a cyclist was killed by falling trees on the C&O canal during a strong squall. There was good shelter a couple miles in either direction. Had he stopped and waited, he would have been inconvenienced rather than dead.
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Old 11-26-16, 11:47 AM
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[With out electronics] , I stayed in Hostels (Ireland, Scotland.. 2/97~11/97) then moved on after the storm passed .
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Old 11-26-16, 02:25 PM
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In 2014 I was planning a trip from my home in NH up to Canso NS for the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. This was to be a repeat of a trip I successfully did 8 years previously. Due to a leg injury I had to cancel the bike trip but kept plans to attend by driving most of the way by car. Then, although only July 4, an early season hurricane started tracking up the east coast of the US, Hurricane Arthur. I had already bought a festival ticket and reserved a campsite there. I had made a ferry reservation and another for a rental car. At this point I was only going to cycle the 75 miles from my house to the ferry terminal in Portland ME and have the bike with me in Canso for getting around the festival site.

On the day I was to take the ferry from Portland the Weather Service had updated the storm track for it to make land fall in southern Nova Scotia then later to pass directly over the coastal festival site during the weekend of the event. At this point I aborted plans for the trip and canceled as many reservations as possible. One hour later I received an email from the organizers stating that the event had been canceled. The first cancellation in it's 18 year history.

Thanks to early storm predictions a potential catastrophe was averted. Not only would there have been a sea of small personal tents (as in AdvXtrm's videos) but also many large event tents not designed for hurricane winds. The event promoters had to dismantle the entire site in two days and notify thousands of ticket holders and scores of performers, some already en route from Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Rogers_Folk_Festival

I guess my point with this story is that if an event for 10,000 people can be aborted in two days, an individual cyclist should be able to keep abreast of the weather and change plans accordingly. That said, on a bike trip some weather events do happen suddenly. On a TransAm tour one year our group of 12 was evacuated from a town park in KS by police to a school shelter during a tornado warning. We were just starting to serve dinner.

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Old 11-26-16, 03:21 PM
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Back in the '70s, I got caught in a nor'easter once while trying to make a 50 mile run from Wildwood State Park to the Orient Point ferry landing on Long Island. When I poked my nose out of the tent it was just a drizzle, so I decided to head out and try to get to the ferry landing anyway. No idea what the weather forecast was. Of course it got completely ridiculous as the storm grew. On the north fork of L.I., there are several stretches of road where the Long Island Sound is on one side of the road and the bay is on the other, separated by yards, which were under a few inches of water by the time I got that far out. I persisted though and sloshed to my destination. The joys of being a young dumbass!

A few years later my friends and I were coming back from Boston to NYC and got caught outside Westerly R.I., as Hurricane Gloria started to roll in. When branches started coming off the trees, we decided it would behoove us to seek out a hurricane shelter, which we did.
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Old 11-26-16, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by AdvXtrm View Post
and no money for hotels and such
With what @Machka said, I would advise getting a credit card or something for emergency situations. I never plan to get a hotel on tours but once I had no choice when I was caught up in a blizzard this past May. $75 but I survived.
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Old 11-26-16, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by AdvXtrm View Post
I suppose not many tents, let alone any lightweight ones could withstand such a storm
You may want to look at this youtube playlist featuring tents in stormy conditions.

Modern tents are extremely resistant and when set-up properly can withstand fierce winds. Certainly up to 60mph (100kmh), above which the major risk factor becomes flying debris anyway.

Last edited by gauvins; 11-26-16 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 11-26-16, 08:17 PM
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I've done 120 km/h winds in my UL tent off the northern most coastline in Japan. Massive flooding, things flying around everywhere, hell I was being blown around everywhere on the road. Tent was totally fine. Still using it 3 years later.

Massive thunderstorm in Zimbabwe that really did come out of nowhere (normal in Africa...). No idea on the windspeed but it was awful with loads of golf ball sized hail and a dump of rain like a Cat 4 Hurricane. Cheap tarp and bivy setup were totally fine. Wind knocked my beer over was the worst part.

I don't sweat the rating of my shelter as long as its pretty alright 90% of the time. Carrying a tent that is rated for a 1 in a 100 year storm is as silly as bringing an umbrella to the desert in case it rains....
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Old 11-27-16, 06:49 AM
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Always have a Plan "B"... and "C".

Prepare for the worst, and enjoy the best.

I have always kept an eye on the weather. Used to travel with a weather radio back in the day. Today there is no excuse not to know what is coming up. Yes you do get the occasional storm that gets worse than predicted, but that is the exception not the norm.

I have spent the night in a portable toilet on a highway project when I miscalculated just how fast a cold front was moving. We went from rain to freezing rain to full blown ice storm in a matter of a few miles. The porta john kept me out of the weather until the front passed through.

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Old 11-27-16, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Always have a Plan "B"... and "C".

Prepare for the worst, and enjoy the best.

I have always kept an eye on the weather. Used to travel with a weather radio back in the day. Today there is no excuse not to know what is coming up. Yes you do get the occasional storm that gets worse than predicted, but that is the exception not the norm.

I have spent the night in a portable toilet on a highway project when I miscalculated just how fast a cold front was moving. We went from rain to freezing rain to full blown ice storm in a matter of a few miles. The porta john kept me out of the weather until the front passed through.

Aaron
Wow! That really "stinks"!!!
Sorry for the awful pun, "butt" here I go again; seriously though, you've got to do what you have to, to stay safe and survive. As long as I don't end up down the hole in one of those things that would be great!
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Old 11-27-16, 07:39 AM
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Yea, being caught in the weather isn't fun. The best course of action is to avoid being out in bad weather all together - as has been mentioned already. With the age of mobile cellular devices and internet access - I agree there is no reason to not know what is heading your way. Those concerts etc with lots of people "camping" are magnets for bad weather, like mobile home parks and tornadoes.

As far as tents go - "4 season" tents are generally better built as they are made to cover winter use also. They are not as well ventilated as a 3 season tent, however. A buddy of mine has an expedition grade mountain hardwear tent, 2 person I think, maybe 3. I want to say it is a Trango model - orange and gray fly. I was on a backpacking trip with him when I was in college. I have a mountain hardwaer hammerhead - it is a cross between a 3 and 4 season - lots of mesh with panels that zip in to make it a full double wall 4 season, really slick tent for what it is - which is why I bought it. I was camped below the ridge line we were on in the appalachians. My buddy and the guy he was tenting with wanted to get to the high point. So they hiked about 1/4 mile away from where the rest of the group was to get on the high point - a mound/bald that was along the ridge. Between dinner time and about 2am then wind went from dead calm to blowing about 60mph or better. There was no "storm", it was just airmasses moving. On an unprotected ridge the air compressed and amplified the speed where we were. The guys tent on the high point broke several guy lines. I have several videos I took that night. At daybreak I hiked up there to check on them and the tent was standing. I found out the guy lines had broke and the side facing up wind was getting blown in all night - it picked the guy up on that side and piled the two together. Wind got under the tent and there wasn't anything they could do. Interesting night. I had my tent set up on a flat slab of rock. I used other rocks piled at the corners for guy anchors. Every 30-45min I was up pulling the rocks back to position so my tent wasn't flopping in my face. I had the same problem the guys on the high point did, but being down under the apex of the ridge I only got a fraction of the air pressure. If I had to do it again and I knew that was coming I would have camped on lower ground.
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Old 11-27-16, 09:43 AM
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I slept out Hurricane Sandy in a hiker's shelter at the summit of Mt. Greylock in Western Mass. a few years back. many of those shelters have bulletproof windows to keep vandals from breaking the glass.
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