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Wind - learning

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Wind - learning

Postby lovethepirk » Thu May 28, 2015 5:00 pm

I've been playing with ikitesurf(seems like an amazing site) and some other weather sites trying to learn a little more here and there.

Any comments on mistakes you can make/have made are appeciated. My questions would be what is the hierarchy of wind analysis do you do before a session? For instance will you take a look at the current and predicted wind on ikitesurf, look at larger weather pattern maps, then do an on site analysis looking at a flag or leaves blowing on trees, etc. Any is the ultimate analysis learned when you are actually on the water and can just feel it?

A couple other questions I have is here in south florida we are going to start getting storms and lightning. Is it just a completely stupid idea to fly with lightning it also stupid to fly if it may rain or is raining?


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Re: Wind - learning

Postby edt » Thu May 28, 2015 5:10 pm

midwest kiter we have constant storm weather.

my rule is: yellow you ride, red you don't. I don't mind rain.

We have to check the radar 5 minutes before you launch. So hard to see the weather from the ground around here. I know some places in the world you can see the weather coming not here, there can be a super cell with 100 mph winds hiding just behind a bunch of harmless clouds.;

talk to your local crew that's the best way to figure it out, every location is different.

lightning by itself is possibly not dangerous no kiter has ever been struck by lightning while riding. Not real sure about the dangers of lightning. One guy did get struck but only immediately after he landed his kite, his son just meters away didn't get struck with his kite in the air. I'm convinced something about the shape of the kite tends to dissipate electric charge. however it is incredibly stupid to kite while lightning is nearby. Lightning indicates a massive storm system and you can't ride that kind of wind, it can go from 0 to 100 mph in seconds.
Last edited by edt on Thu May 28, 2015 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Wind - learning

Postby Laughingman » Thu May 28, 2015 5:12 pm

Read this...

I kite in the rain, not that I like to but I will...

Lightening is another story, remember lightening can strike over 5 kms away from the storm... so if you can see the storm, you are probably too close to be clear of lightening strikes.

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Re: Wind - learning

Postby RickI » Thu May 28, 2015 5:38 pm

Good question, this is what I do routinely. It takes little time and helps you avoid wind waiting at the beach and lessens the odds of surprises.

RickI wrote:Kiteboarding Weather Planning And Monitoring

I believe based upon analysis of hundreds of accidents/incidents over 12 years and personal misadventures that ALL kitesurfers should undertake steps similar to the following for EACH kiting session.

Put this together a while back. It is worth reading over and using something similar where you ride before each session. It can reduce wind waiting and improve the odds for better, ideally safer sessions. has lots of local stations/pages throughout the USA. Some other countries have similar resources. Learn what exists where you ride and use it. Don't expect these services to warn of ALL hazards to kiters, as they haven't at times in the past. A small cloud can wreck our day and may not even show up on their threat board. This was an extreme and obvious threat, others are more subtle fairly often. A sudden gust from a squall topping out at 35 kts. or less has injured kiters when they failed anticipate it and react properly in advance. We need to use these resources, others, pay attention to weather at the launch and act responsibly ourselves.

Kiteboarding Weather Planning And Monitoring

Here are some ideas to consider while planning your kiting sessions, where to go, expecting what winds and when, what weather hazards if any are anticipated and things to look for. It isn't perfect and there are still surprises but less than going out without much of an idea what to expect that day. Knowledge is power and should improve the odds for more fun and less grief, use it.

1. Marine/Water & Hazard Forecasts
Check reliable forecasts (predicted winds, direction, HAZARD FORECASTS, temperatures, anticipated changes, cold fronts, tropical or strong systems). Anticipate changes don’t fall into them. Not all private weather sites are reliable, use what works well in your area. Will your kite size work for the day or will you need to increase or decrease size at some point. How about exposure clothing, is there a sudden temperature drop inbound? Hazard forecast are often a guess, one that may be exaggerated or understated, every once in a while spot on. We need to use them as a guide tempering the forecast with our own good judgment. Predictions of 30 kt. gusts with storms can readily change to 50 kts.+ when they actually come through. We need to do some thinking for ourselves in short and on the conservative side too.

2. Radar and Satellite Maps
Is stormy weather (often bright colored masses), squall lines, isolated storm clouds or feeder bands inbound? Looping weather images can show CURRENT trends and speed. Does it look they will arrive during your session? Cold front squall lines can be very narrow and pass by within a hour or so at times making it easier to avoid the wind hazards. Temper this with LOCAL knowledge as conditions can change radically in only an hour sometimes, systems can accelerate or stall, etc.. Thermal squalls, the ones that often bring thermal winds can pop up very fast on radar, use your eyes at the beach and storm signs at the beach too.

3. Synoptic/Frontal Weather Maps
Are there significant weather systems inbound, cold fronts, tropical systems, strong high/low pressure, got tight pressure isobars for strong wind? You can see fronts on these maps routinely five days out, there is usually no good reason to be caught by surprise with frontal wind spikes, squalls, direction shifts, temperature drops. You can often watch things move in over time and perhaps even time them to the half hour at your launch. Look at these maps on loop again to learn about CURRENT trends and speed.

4. Real time winds
How are winds upweather or the direction of the prevailing system, spikes/gusty and shifting winds inbound, is there a 90 degree or so windshift coming with a front? Frequently you can see a preview of what the front will bring to your area, hundreds of miles upweather in advance. It’s a free look at what may be the future, why not take it? If unstable weather is coming avoid it until it passes. Did the winds pop up later in the morning or afternoon, are they thermal or convection winds? If so, they will likely turn off and you should know when to anticipate this happening. The regional wind pattern may resume once they turn off, be it dead calm or changing to blowing directly offshore. Learn what to look for and act in advance of the change.

5. Wind Useable or NOT?
If you decide to go, STAY AWARE, at all times of the weather. Things like cloud lines, funnel clouds, microbursts, wind direction and velocity, white caps, mist, temperature changes. KNOW what systems/clouds look like in your area that bring hazardous weather. Typical weather patterns can be recognized within given seasons. Learn what to look for and when to react. Good chance you are a wind junkie already so play the complete roll and tune into wx. Measure wind speed at the launch along with other visual indicators such as white caps, tree and flag movement and ask how other kiters are doing on their respective kite sizes before selecting yours. If you expect a weather change to occur, don't be on the water if something violent comes through. Sometimes the hazardous period can be short so just wait it out assess to verify stable conditions have resumed and rig for actual conditions.

6. At the beach & riding
Checkout wind speed, direction, sky and water conditions at the launch and during your session. Is the wind useable, are sky conditions stable or threatening? What do threatening sky conditions look like in your area? You should know. Are there dark clouds and/or a wind/whitewater inbound? What about funnel clouds or waterspouts, are there small points showing up at the bottom of clouds? Can you see whitewater approaching, new wind lines, how about dust from microbursts? Always be aware of your surroundings, weather changes, ANTICIPATE & REACT early.

7. Squall is almost here!
Land, thoroughly secure gear early, before significant wind, temperature changes or threatening weather arrives. Systems can move 50 mph + hitting with minimal warning. If you screw up and are caught on the water, consider totally or emergency depowering your kite early, waiting too long has taken riders. Be ready to release your kite leash if your kite powers up again. Riding out far from shore may work for ships. Ships don’t get ripped 50’+ from the water and blown at high speed downwind. DON'T WAIT, act early to kill the power of the kite even if it means swimming in after. Your strong swimming skills and impact vest should make that a manageable process in normal temperatures. If it is cooler use a lot of extra care and again act correctly EARLY.

These are just some impressions, there is still more to learn particularly dealing with the weather patterns in your area. Want to learn more, plug into your local situation and build up a strong weather sense and knowledge of predictive and realtime weather informational sites. Be careful about less violent gusts. Guys have been injured by gusts as little as 10 kts. above background. Going to 20 kt. gusts you can get YANKED off of the water and blown inland, IF you set yourself up for it with poor technique.

Originally posted at on March 14, 2003

[url]There is more related information for consideration in the top several stickies at:


FKA, Inc.
transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

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Re: Wind - learning

Postby Craz Z » Thu May 28, 2015 6:10 pm

I check all forecasts available and choose where and what time to launch.

Heavy spreads I avoid like the plague just not fun. 20 gusting to 35 is to much. I'd do 10 or 12 spreads but over that it gets too gusty and too squirrely. 35 and over usually runs on too gusty usually. Really depends on location.

Storm kiting I used to chase pretty hard. I won't even bother anymore far too risky.
Pre-frontal winds are usually super smooth and the best consistent wind.
As it begins to ramp up you need to get off the water fast as usually the shits about to hit the fan as the virga begins to move closer towards you.

If lightning is in the air DO NOT kite. I learned this after years of storm kiting. Was in a pond kiting and enjoying the wind. Storm was 15-25 miles out. Could see the lightning out at 20-30 miles still.

I felt some static charging was building, but did not recognize it as a problem. as the storm was approaching I did a jump and the second I left the water I got hit by what I would describe as a precursor strike. It literally knocked me down and I felt like I stuck my hand in a light socked. My entire body was aching slightly.

Finally put it together got the kite down stuffed it in the car and within 10 minutes of putting the gear away in the car there were strikes everywhere including where i was just kiting.

The storm cells can be hard to predict the speed at which they where coming in at. if you see it your too close especially the lightning.

I usually use noaa and windalert. Also do my OSR with my windflow sensor. Noaa's time graph is fairly accurate within half hour to hour. and of course sometimes they are just dead wrong and you just drink beer instead.

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Re: Wind - learning

Postby Jollydriver » Thu May 28, 2015 8:11 pm

edt wrote:lightning by itself is possibly not dangerous no kiter has ever been struck by lightning while riding.

I'll start off with the serious, which is I think lightning is an extremely dangerous if unlikely hazard. Statistically it probably ranks well below sharks in the ocean and crocs in their range...and all of these dangers rank well below the risk you assume if you have to drive to your favorite spot. The problem with lightning is it also often comes with other risks like gust fronts, wind shear, and hail. Gust fronts loft kiters and a wind shear can slam them down just as quickly. I approach this as a professional aviator, who gives lightning the respect it deserves. Aircraft have sustained damage from lightning strikes, and so can a I want to be off the water/beach before I have lightning within 5 miles...which means I need to be landing/packing up as they cross a 10 mile threshold...those are my personal limits, so take that for what it's worth...which is just my opinion and technique.

And now for a bit of humor...I can think of one kiter struck by lightning (although he wasn't on a board):
image.jpg (45.29 KiB) Viewed 1083 times

And don't mess with Mother Nature:

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Re: Wind - learning

Postby Starsky » Fri May 29, 2015 12:49 pm

This is a great topic. Too much focus on gear and procedure, when understanding weather is truly a massive part of overall risk management.

I think its really important for local riders to share the peculiarities of any given spot with new riders. There are the basics of using a variety of forecasting tools and on site evaluation, but in many many cases there are local issues that can not only help people stay safe and preserve access, but just generally lead to better predictability and enjoyment of the sport.

For instance there are a couple of things specific to our local spots that are not immediately apparent to new kiters. South winds invariably drop off by noon around here regardless of forecast. Happens all the time that the local wind chasers get on it at 8 or 9 in the morning knowing this and are packing up by 11 as it just starts to drop a bit. Invariably a bunch of people show up and race to rig, but end up not getting out if their lucky and swimming if their not. We tell em how it works, but showing up to wind in the face of others having just had a great session is enough to bury our warnings under too much stoke. They learn eventually.

In fall, our winds can shift off shore quickly and it generally happens as things begin to cool off at the end of the day.......same thing. People show up after work having seen it blow all day from their office and they rig like maniacs as the locals are all coming in and shutting it down. Once again, any warning at this time comes across as almost mean, and most of them will learn the hard way.

It's tough when your super stoked on your new sport, but if you are new to the sport and the only one who shows up at the launch, there is probably a reason. Eventually people clue in, but nothing saves time like asking the locals what to watch for. Invariably you will learn a lot more about weather and improve your success rate as well as reduce your risk.

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Re: Wind - learning

Postby plummet » Fri May 29, 2015 6:58 pm

Some good answers above.

Here's what I do.

Check forecast.
One the day Check live weather station compare to forecast.
check rain radar. Aim to go kiting after or in between any big squalls on the radar.
check the live weather station when the squalls go through... you get an idea of how they will affect the wind.
Check lightning tracker if its a day that might have lightning.

Then turn up at the beach. Most often I already know what kite is needed.
Do a visual check. See what other people are flying
talk to guys just finishing a session on the conditions.
Make your kite selection and ride.

Some additional advice for the newbie.
If your kite is a lot bigger than most others on the beach.... you probably should down size.
If the sky is black and angry upwind. Land your kite now before the weather hits.
If the experienced guys all land their kites before some approaching clouds..... So should you.

After some time you will gain knowledge of how you local compares to the forecast as what happens when certain weather hits the area.
EG I know that a sea brease adds 5-10 knots to W or SW winds locally, But takes it away from N to NW winds. SE is usually 5 knots more that forecast as is SW. Snow clouds. on the mountain behind me can kill the wind and make it unpredictable.

Add all that info up and you have some comprehensive data to make good decisions with.

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Re: Wind - learning

Postby skullcandy » Fri May 29, 2015 7:43 pm

I listen to the voice of reason in my head... When its a 50/50 call, I error on the side of caution - but if you do decide to head out, always keep an eye over your shoulder of what the clouds look like up wind of you.....

Re: Lightning - never heard of a kiter getting struck (only because I think most know not to go out when T heads are close by) but sometimes when you get low clouds producing rain but not lightning (the yellow v red radar blob someone else mentioned) you will sometimes get some shocks on your bar. Its wild actually.

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Re: Wind - learning

Postby lovethepirk » Fri May 29, 2015 8:05 pm

Thx all for the serious input. I got the progression dvd and am going to watch the beginner tonight.

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