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How do you handle vandwelling in the rain?  What if there's no place drier within reasonable driving distance?  Do you hunker down?  Do you get outside anyway and get wet?  If so, how do you prevent moisture build up inside of your vehicle?  

Currently scientists predict this coming winter to be a strong El Niño event, stronger than 1997-98.  This means more than average rainfall in the desert SW.   Do any of you have memories of the desert southwest during that 97-98 winter?

For Quartzsite AZ (Blythe,CA) in 1998 (per
-January Precip Stats: Actual Month Total: 0.27 in [3 days of rain] | Average Month Total: 0.38 in;
-February Precip Stats: Actual Month Total: 2.94 in  [8 days of rain] | Average Month Total: 0.90 in;
-March Precip Stats: Actual Month Total: 1.09 in [5 days of rain] | Average Month Total: 0.43 in.

In Feb-Mar 1998 there were 4 days with rainfall between .86 in and 1.36 in.  (Please see Bob's informative post on setting up a safe camp where these heavy rainfall events happen -- )

I tend to hunker down inside when it rains.  I've a comfortable place to lounge in the Prius.  I was a snowbird in Moab, UT in May this year where it rained for 18 days ( May Precip Stats: Actual Month Total: 1.36 in | Average Month Total: 0.58 in).  I recognize that I'm unusual in that I enjoy the rain, as long as I stay dry.  Also, the sun usually shines between rain storms in the southwest, unlike in my home state of Washington where it remains overcast in the winter.   It's such a joy to stretch in the sunshine after a storm.

When dispersed camping, after a rain storm, the roads are typically not passable in my Prius for several days.  So, I make sure I always have sufficient provisions (gas, water and food) to last me until I can get out.

How are you planning for a probable El Niño winter in the desert southwest?

Suanne ... under PNW overcast skies right now
I was wondering about this myself, 1989 NM was a washout as I had a tent in a wash clear skies but I woke up on a wet pad and water running through the tent, soon learned that it had rained 100 miles away and the water just came down like a river got out just in time stuck in the mud but my wagon was on higher ground.
That depends on whether it's a heavy downpour or a light rain and a couple of other things.

If I've a canopy/tarp deployed I hang out under it if it's only light or medium rain.

If it's just a light rain and it's warm, ha, time to have a shower.... Big Grin

I come from a hiking/canoeing background where, unless there's lightening involved, you stay out, get wet or wear rain gear so maybe I'm more tolerant of rain than some others.

If it's a real heavy rain, blowing sideways or cold then I'll hunker down for a day or so.

The roof vent fan will exhaust enough moist air for me not to worry about  condensation. That's what MaxxAir covers are for!

Now, if it starts snowing - I'm outta there, don't care how far I have to drive... Rolleyes
My poor old van leaks in a few places when it rains.. a couple from where the very high high-top joins the body and one at one of the back doors (van had some dents from prior fender benders). Yes, my family members who did all the mechanical and most construction work on it for me have tried numerous times to seal it.

I do not have walls that I've built inside so the moisture is not exactly trapped in... LOL.. it runs down to the floor. So far I've kept important contents nice and dry. I'm sure the desert air will dry it all out well between rains!

I just consider it like a large but leaky tent. That being said, I did find it easy last year to warm it all up with only 15 to 20 mins of my Mr. Heater Buddy when I got caught where night time temps were freezing or below.

I can stay for days inside if need be since reading and writing all day long has been normal for me my whole career. I am pretty much like Almost There in finding it not too unpleasant to be out if it is not too cold.
Prior to the last couple of months I would have said hunker down and wait it out... but after a couple of months of endless rain in which a 650sqft condo has started to feel like a prison, I'd head down the road in search of a drier place. I really dislike rain.
I like an occasional rainy day, just not weeks of it. I really doubt there will be enough rain in southern Cali and Arizona to screw up my winter even with El Niño. I'm used to lots of rain in Oregon and Washington, 40-80 inches per year. Variety is the spice of life. And the Southwest REALLY needs the moisture.
I'm ok for a few days in the rain, hanging in the van. After that I'd break it up with a trip to town and a good meal and maybe some library time. If it goes on and on I'll be moving.

With the dog, though, there are 3 walks a day, rain or shine.
After a rainy trip a couple of years ago, I decided to upgrade from traveling in a Subaru Forester to a pickup and pop-up camper.  I travel with a beagle and dealing with a muddy dog in that small of a space was a nightmare.  Having been a mountaineer for 40 years, being out in the weather is no problem; I actually enjoy hiking in the rain (the beagle, not so much).  After years of tiny backpacking tents and the Subaru, being able to stand up to dress, move about and cook is a luxury (not to mention a refrigerator!).

I have become very adept at rigging tarps to increase the 'dry' living space, which in the Subaru was important as I cooked out of the back hatch.

Moisture buildup inside the Subaru was a problem.  Even when I rigged a tarp so I could open windows, I had a clammy feeling when raining.  With a ceiling fan and louvered windows in the camper,  I have not yet felt that (and I have been in a couple of wicked rain storms: 4+ inches of rain).

My bigger concern is: do I have enough solar? or am I going to have to drive more to recharge batteries if it is consistently overcast?  My plan (for Arizona this winter) is to do what I would normally do, modifying dress for the weather.  And if it gets nasty, the camper beats laying in a windblown tent, trying to sleeping and reading trashy novels.

-- Spiff
I really don't worry about it, after all I can not change the weather so why worry about it. for the most part I stay active in the rain. a good rain suit goes a long way. I run tarps off my truck so just as long as it's not raining sideways I am ok. this goes a long ways because it allows you to stand up and walk around. you don't feel so confined. I feel for those of you in cars, I don't see how you do it. my hat is off to you all. highdesertranger
I find the sound of rain on my fiberglass roof to be intoxicating. If the Van is rocking in the wind, even better.

The 97/98 El Nino, I was living in S. California and Early November, spent 7 weeks in CostaRica. Down there, basically the wet season never occurred, and we were able to drive down a road into a surfbreak that should have been impassable that time of year. Then it started raining, and we were stuck. When food and Beer ran out, we hiked out hitched to the nearest town, filled up with Canned tuna and Guaro, and hiked back in.

No one else could drive in, and the waves turned on and got perfect, absolutely perfect, and we were the only 3 surfers there for 10 days. Absolutely epic. Will never forget it. When I returned to California, everything was different. 4 months later I sold everything, bought plane tickets around the world and left the Conus for 3 years.

How I wish this El Nino presages another epiphany and I get to See more of the world.

We'll have to see how this el Nino turns out. Remember there is just increased probability that some storms will be significantly stronger and wetter. It is No guarantee, but as long as lots of wind blows over open Pacific waters, Ill be happy.
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