High Plains Drifter

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Well-known member
Aug 2, 2014
NE Ohio
This is the first trip out west for DW and me, going from Ohio to the Washington coast via I90. We are currently in southern Minnesota, and have already encountered winds with gusts near 30 mph on Wednesday. It was a pretty exhausting day Wednesday even with stopping for a couple of hours to let the highest winds pass. We spent an extra day here to avoid winds in South Dakota today that have gusts predicted near 40 mph. Looks like it's common in the high plains but not something we thought of in advance.

At about 25 mph gusts hitting us broadside I started getting very uncomfortable and really had to work to keep a straight line. Obviously the main solution is to get off the road at some point.

What has been your experience in the high plains and at what point do you call it a day due to wind? We're doing about 250 miles a day until we get to the Badlands and then somewhat shorter travel days after that.

Jim R.
Those winds can be scary. There is no simple answer. It takes practice to get the feel for what you and your rig can handle. A lot depends on your rig, and its wind profile, too.
Generally, 20-30 MPH crosswinds can be manageable. Over 30, we find a place to wait it out.
Don't get in a hurry. SLOW DOWN!, and, stop for breaks when you feel the need.
Those winds can be scary. There is no simple answer. It takes practice to get the feel for what you and your rig can handle. A lot depends on your rig, and its wind profile, too.
Generally, 20-30 MPH crosswinds can be manageable. Over 30, we find a place to wait it out.
Don't get in a hurry. SLOW DOWN!, and, stop for breaks when you feel the need.
Totally agree 100%. Slow down and wait it out. As a side note you’re going to cross a few mountain ranges with 6% grades on your way to Washington on I90. Stay in the right lane and let everyone pass you by. Pay attention to your downhill speed and you’ll be fine.
Winds are the main reason we slow down and stop on trips. It is one of the main reasons to have flexible travel plans instead of pre-planning every night with advanced reservations IMHO. For me the direction of the wind is fully as important as the mph. I can take a much heavier wind directly in front or behind, and a pretty significant one from a corner, but broadside is ugly. And gusts are uglier than consistent winds! I use the Windy app to see what is along my travel path.
Heavier rigs do better in crosswinds and high-end diesel pushers typically have more capable steering and suspension, so can tolerate higher speed crosswinds, but that doesn't help you any. For gas-chassis coaches like yours, I'd say you have found the right answer: get off the road in 25 mph crosswinds. You will find it tiring to drive long distances in even 15-20 mph winds, so give yourself a break.

I recall following a buddy across the plains in nasty crosswinds, he in a 36 ft pusher and me in a 35 ft Workhorse gas chassis coach. His rig outweighed me by several thousand lbs and had air suspension. When I followed him I could see his coach was steadily skewed maybe 10 degrees sideways; when he followed me he said I was more like 15-20 degrees and continually shifting back and forth. I could feel that in the steering, i.e. continuously having to adjust the wheel. We stopped early that day! Two years later I did it again, this time with a 40 ft pusher of my own and 50% more weight. Much more comfortable and less tiring, but still no fun.
I tend to look at the predicted wind speeds of the day to decide when to travel. Usually early morning there is less wind and you can make some good travel before the wind picks up.

There have been days when it is just plain windy and we have stayed safe at the campground a couple of days until things have calmed down.

Amarillo is one such place we tend to watch out and have stayed a day or two in order to avoid high winds. Best to be safe than sorry.
Usually, but not always, the wind is not as bad early in the morning so we start out pretty early if I know the winds are going to be bad and get to my destination before they cause problems.
DH and I recently experienced wind gusts up to 55 miles an hour. We couldn't get off the road soon enough. We finally came to an exit and a friendly trucker pulled over and instructed us to pull up next to him so he could shelter us from the wind until the wind storm passed. We learned that in addition to the regular weather reports we need to check the wind advisories.
NM SE Plains Desert: As of 3:45PM 20 - 30mph sustained winds with gusts up to 50mph. We have a wind advisory until 7PM tonight. I go off the attached chart. It was written for semi-trucks. I figure the conditions in green are fairly safe for driving and when conditions meet the yellow criteria, I should be parked. I've seen too many vehicles blown off the road as well as blown into other vehicles while living out here. Plus we have the added bonus(?) of dust, often with near zero visibility.

Operating Guidlines for Vehicles Based on Wind Speeds.jpeg
Thank you all for replies. We made it to our next overnight stop but did have to wait out some 40 mph gusts for about 3 hours. This morning we looked ahead at the wind forecasts for our route and figured out a way to safely travel, plus we located extra rest stops along the way so we could adjust as needed.
Less than Federal Tire Placard air pressures allow more tire sidewall squirm, which magnifies side-wind induced movement.
When we've driving I 90 or US 2 Westbound, I realized arising early and being driving by daylight was the best way to avoid high winds. I might slow to 55 MPH if high side-winds were pushing the MH around. I'd find a CG just after noon and usually miss the high afternoon winds that are created by sun heat.
Windy is a good app (free & paid) that I have on my android cellphone to see the wind direction and speed on my route. Some places typically have stronger winds than other places due to terrain, etc. Sometimes, it is better to take road A rather than road B even though they look similar on my maps and are only 50 miles apart. I can also let the forecast run ahead a few hours or days to see how the wind is a state or two away. I think it is as valuable as my truckers atlas and my road atlas when it comes to planning where and when I travel.
Yes, Windy and Ventusky are two very good sites for weather and winds. Windy can even show where wildfires are, and Ventusky can show fronts. Both can show lightning strikes, too.

I also find this National Weather Service Graphical Forecasts site to be very helpful, looking up predicted winds, temps and precip, among other things, up to 10 days out, and you can zoom in on the region you care about:


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