How To Prepare For A Storm When Camping

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Hey campers and welcome to my post where I will we will check out some tips and tricks on how to prepare for a storm when camping.  Camping can be a fun time but unfortunately there are times when you notice the sky darkening unexpectedly and the clouds growing larger.  And from here we probably don’t need to explain the effects that the strong winds and rain of a storm can have on a campsite.

So if you happen to experience during such weather conditions, the following  information may be helpful in keeping things in one piece.  Let’s check it all out.  

Tips to prepare for a storm when camping

As above here are some good tips to adhere to as you start to see lighting on the horizon

1. Check the weather forecast

For our first tip we are going to take the proactive approach to preparation with weather reporting.  Find out what the weather is like at the time of year you’re visiting and make sure you’re there during the right season. Then look at the weather forecasts for the day. Planning for the weather also means you can pack appropriately regarding gear, clothing, and your tent.

Weather patterns are always subject to exceptions, especially when traveling during transitional seasons. As a result, let the weather forecast guide your packing strategy. Failure to check the weather forecast can leave outdoor enthusiasts unprepared and frustrated campers.

Once you are out on the campgrounds, you can also watch for telltale signs that a storm is brewing such as:

  1. Presence of large cumulus clouds
  2. Darkening of sky or clouds
  3. Sudden alteration in wind direction
  4. Immediate drop in temperature
  5. Decrease of atmospheric pressure (if you have means of measuring)
  6. Thunder in the distance 

Any of these and you should start getting ready…

How to prepare for a storm when camping - tent with brewing storm

2. Understand the hazards of a storm

Once of the most important methods of preparing for any possible issue is to understand what can possible occur should a storm hit.  These include

  • High Winds – High winds are the biggest problem when there is a decent storm hitting. Such strong winds stress trees, causing them to topple over or break off branches. When setting up a tent beneath or near a tree, it is critical to watch for large branches etc. that are blown around.  This is of course also the biggest problem for campers in that a decent wind cam topple a tent and gazebo in seconds – not to mention spreading your gear all over the place.
  • LightningA lightning strike on a tree could also cause damage and the fall of branches. Setting up a tent beneath such large branches should be avoided because strong winds may lead them to fall on you.
  • Flashfloods – Due to the large amount of rain that can fall in a short amount of time, thunderstorms are known to be causing flashfloods.  And whilst flash floods can occur anywhere, they are more dangerous in dry areas because you are often unaware of the presence of water. These areas also have a lot of loose debris on the ground which can be turned into a battering ram in fast moving water.
  • Hypothermia – Whilst this can be extreme, hypothermia occurs when your body becomes cold and loses heat faster than it can generate it. This can occur if you are out in the elements for a length of time in wet gear.  However, if you’re prepared and understand the risks, you can avoid them effectively.

3. Prepare your gear for the worst

It is always best to expect the worst-case scenario when we are exploring the great outdoors so even if the forecast tells you that a sunny day is on your way, still consider the possibility of thunderstorms spoiling your fun. Thus, include in your gear those items and equipment that will help you endure unexpected storms.

This includes not only making sure you have the right gear, but also making sure you can secure it if a storm hits.  In terms of gear, this can include:

  1. Wind proof storage containers
  2. Drying racks
  3. Tent tapes for waterproofing
  4. Extra long tent pegs
  5. Raincoats
  6. Extra flashlights
  7. Dry bags
  8. Tarpaulins
  9. Waterproof powerbank
  10. Emergency food
  11. Spare clothes
How to prepare for a storm when camping - brewing storm

4. Choose a lightning-safe spot

Lightning will seek the quickest path to the ground so try not to pitch your tent on the highest spot of the campsite. You also do not want your tent directly beneath a tall object (such as a tree) as if it is struck by lightning, you may be injured by a side flash.

Ideally, you should pitch your tent in a low-lying area that is not likely to flood.

5.  Prepare your campsite

In the next section we will talk about removing yourself from the campsite for extra safety.  However before you do that, you should prepare your campsite as best you can including:

  • Folding down any gazebos and camp chairs etc. and laying them flat on the ground
  • Place any loose gear in large storage containers so that it will not blow away
  • Secure your tent with longer pegs (or drop the tent if the storm is a big one)

Essentially, if it can blow away, clamp it down or remove it.

6. Seek safety for yourself

Now we start to look at your requirements once the storm starts to hit beginning with protection of the most important items of the campsite – you and your family/companions.  When a thunderstorm arrives at your campsite, logic dictates that you keep yourself from the harm by undertaking the following:

Find a safe shelter:

If possible, try and get to a safe shelter before the storm hits.  Stay in your safe shelter for around 30 minutes until you can no longer hear the thunder as many lightning inhuries occur due to people leaving their shelters too quickly.

Anything that is a solid structure will suffice as a shelter such as a camp kitchen, laundry or even the amenities block.

If there is no safe shelter, then

  • Leave your tent
  • Go to a dry ravine or depression
  • Avoid standing next to tall objects or structures
  • Move away from ridges or elevated regions

If you cannot leave your tent, then:

Use a camping stool, a sleeping bag, a tarp, or a sleeping pad to add as many layers as possible between your body and the ground. Most importantly, avoid touching your tent poles, especially if they are aluminum or another metal, as this will make them a great conductor of lightning.

Then shrink yourself as much as possible by curling your knees into your chest. Wrapping your arms around them is also advisable.

How to prepare for a storm when camping - wet campsite after storm

7. Spread out

And finally, whilst camping in larger groups is fun, but when you see a thunderstorm coming your way, you should disperse yourself and evenly distribute. This not only reduces the possibility of serious injury in the event of hail or a lightning strike, but it also ensures that members of your party are not hit by flying debris from other people’s tents.

In addition to this, if you are camping with a group, make sure everyone knows what to do if a thunderstorm or other severe weather strikes. In the event of an injury or significant damage to your campsite, ensure that your group has a plan in place to deal with such an emergency.


And there they are, 7 tips that you can use to protect yourself when thunderstorms visit your camping sites. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences here.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun

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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.