Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hail to the Chieftain

Dear Dr. R. V. Shrink:
We are heading north after our first winter in Arizona. We imagined everything about our first year of retirement and looked forward to spending it exploring the Southwest. What we didn't imagine was the risk of getting home in the spring. We ran smack into a weather pattern that dropped golf ball size hail on our new rig. It looks like it has been pelted with cue balls.

I thought we were heading home too soon, but my husband was chomping at the bit to get started. What I thought would be a relaxing trip north has turned out to be a nightmare.

Is this a regular occurrence? Is severe spring weather something we should learn to deal with? I am not playing the blame game, but I think we should stay south longer and avoid the transition storms we have dealt with this year. My husband thinks it was just bum luck. Any thoughts?
--Hail Mary in Minnesota

Dear Mary:
Heading north in the spring with flocks of other migrating snowbirds can get dicey. No one seems to be able to predict the weather, but forecast science gets better all the time. It would be wise to invest some time in the weather channel, weather apps, maybe even a weather radio. The more information the better.

You may want to plan a route that skirts geography that is notorious for the worst spring weather outbreaks of tornadoes, hail, wind and flooding.

After a lot of homework, you can still experience bum luck and just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When that happens, find a safe harbor for your land yacht and park it until it looks safe to be out on the road again.

Hail can be very damaging to metal, glass, fiberglas and paint. It is all repairable after negotiating with your insurance company. Following spring home can often be as enjoyable as the whole winter of travel.

Try not to let this experience ruin numerous years of future, trouble-free travel.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink


Unknown said...

We just spent our seventh winter in Florida. The first couple of years we made a bee-line for home after the winter. Now we take our time - maybe two weeks, and see some sights along the way. These are places we don't have to make a special trip for since we are already going by, depending one what route we take home. So far we have seen Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, Memphis, Nashville and Mammoth Cave. One of these years we will stop at Washington DC as well.

George said...

We are "sunbirds" (small house in AZ then spend most of the year traveling in the RV), but our experience and that of friends suggests "yes, too soon" as the answer. Unless there is some reason to be "back home" by a certain date, we see most people gradually extend their stays to let spring weather settle. If, like me, your husband has an itch to hit the road, make it a point to schedule a few weeks worth of stops at places in the Southwest at first. Take advantage of some areas' "shoulder season". Then, make the move north and east more gradually, allowing for some extra time to hold up if weather threatens. We are headed to Alabama, Kentucky, and Connecticut this year, but we made stops at Kartchner Caverns, El Paso, and now South Padre Island in the early part of our trip. And we still have an "eye to the sky"...

Anonymous said...

We spent 3 lovely winters in Az travelling from Ontario, Canada each year. I will freely admit that one of the main reasons we stopped going to AZ is the unpredictable weather each spring in the Midwest. Every year it seems we were "chased" by spring storms. We now travel to Florida with our fifthwheel. Miss the AZ sunshine but not spring return trip home.

MarvThom said...

We started to Alaska from Orlando on 6 April, we'll get out of Evansville, IN by this weekend we hope. We have all summer and the fall to get back to our wintering place. We're retired, so why rush things, home is going to be there whenever you get there. Enjoy the trip and use a different route when you go.

Anonymous said...

Like the two previous comments, we like to meander going home (North) in the spring. We usually leave 2 to 3 weeks before we have to be home and get to see Spring budding all the way home. We like to visit out-of-the way places that have been absolutely delightful. We have driven through some snow squalls but nothing serious enough to make us pull off the road and hunker down. We always listen to the radio for weather forecasts and also have a weather app on our cell phone. If anything serious is going to happen, we wait until it has passes. So far, so good for past ten years.

George said...

It's just luck or lack thereof. We drive with out 5er from Arizona to Saskatchewan. This spring coming home we didn't see one snow flake. Three weeks after we got home there was a 70 semi pile up on I-80 because of snow exactly where we had travelled.