We lust for wind. Sometimes we get more than we can handle, mother nature is like that. When it happens things can get ugly, gear can get trashed and so can riders. This picks up on a couple of other threads:
First some pictures ...
LOTS of other variations out there, we are talking about an entire WORLD of weather, right? Get to know what goes on in your area.
So, what is the problem? Good useable winds, perhaps even on the lighter side, rigged big - right and suddenly, KA-POW, a very strong gust slams in! Say 15 kts. to 40 kts. or even 10 kts. to 50 kts. This can happen in many areas of the world. The force exerted by your kite can increase by SEVEN TO TWENTY-FIVE TIMES IN THESE GUST RANGES!!! Serious stuff, more power than we can safetly handle.
If something like this hits and you have a kite up it is UNCERTAIN how things will play out. You might be able to depower your kite and keep it. Your kite might be ripped away from you and threaten someone else downwind or simply get trashed on a powerline or building. Or, you might not be able to depower or unhook, LOTS HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO, and you are going for a ride. Possibly lofted high, long and fast or dragged, short, fast and hard. Either way, serious injury may happen and has already happened to other riders.
So how about an example? Take the storm system, nice white clouds, pretty almost. We had some of these moving down the coast here over the last two days.
The color radar showed the following:
a closer view
Note the multicolored cells in the storm band to the north. The reds and darker colors indicate POWERFUL storm cells. The kind that can toss out gusts on the order of 35 to 50 kts. or even higher, in tornados that could be spawned.
Here is what the Weather Service had to say about conditions:
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
439 PM EST WED MAR 12 2003
...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING CONTINUES FOR
NORTHEASTERN PALM BEACH COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST FLORIDA UNTIL 515 PM EST...
THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING...
HAIL UP TO THE SIZE OF QUARTERS...
DAMAGING WINDS GREATER THAN 60 MILES AN HOUR...
VERY HEAVY RAINFALL WHICH MAY CAUSE LOCALIZED FLOODING...
VERY FREQUENT AND DEADLY CLOUD-TO-GROUND LIGHTNING...
Time to rig up and go? Not if you aren't running for a Darwin Award.
Here are some wind graphs of past systems that typify these squalls:
DON'T CONCLUDE that these sort of squalls are confined to South Florida, THEY AREN'T. It seems most areas at some time or another have strong violent storm winds. Some areas, like South Florida, New Zealand, and probably LOTS of other areas have these not too uncommonly. I have tried to build a database of local unstable weather but folks have been reluctant to send in information unfortunately. It isn't TOO LATE to help out your fellow riders, for more info checkout:
So, how do you try to deal with squalls and ride hard, fast and well into the future?
1. Check color radar if you have it. Look for embedded storm cells in squalls moving towards you or forming in your area. Temper this with LOCAL knowledge as conditions can change radically in only an hour sometimes. In the USA you can checkout: http://www.nws.noaa.gov
2. Check realtime wind reports. If there are strong gust spikes and/or sudden direction changes examine the radar particularly for that area. See if there are severe weather warnings, if there are pay attention.
In the USA and some surrounding areas you can checkout:
3. DECIDE, if based upon this and PAST experience with similar systems if something nasty is likely to slam down on you or not. Ask other people in your area, windsurfers, sailors and tuned in kiteboarders for example.
4. If you decide to go, STAY AWARE, at all times of the weather. Things like cloud lines, wind direction and velocity, white caps, temperature changes. Good chance you are a wind junkie already so play the complete roll and tune into wx.
5. If you see a squall moving in, get to shore well IN ADVANCE of any change in wind speed, direction or temperature. Anchor your kite very well and detach the lines. Guys have already been severely injured by waiting too late in this. Lets try to cut down on repititons of these avoidable accidents.
6. If you ride with a bunch of regulars at your local launch consider getting an airhorn(s) and agreeing on a SQUALL'S ON - ALL IN signal. Something like three fast blasts repeated. Some also hoist a red flag at times like this. Try to look after your own in this, the squall doesn't discriminate and will spank anyone that is in the way.
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. You could checkout other works on this in the KSR at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/ ... EFERENCES/
4. LOFTING AND HOW TO TRY TO AVOID IT
GENERAL REFERENCES including:
Weather and Kiteboarding w-photos 8-7-02.doc