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RickI 04-13-2010 11:35 AM

Kite Ride To Hell
A kiteboarder of several years experience in local conditions, and years of windsurfing before that, CHOSE to launch into a very violent supercell storm minutes away.

- Winds were building steadily as the green squall cloud rushed in at about 55 mph

- Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were widely issued with concerns about 60 to 70 mph winds, golf ball sized hail (almost 2 inch) and lightening. Tornado watches had been issued related to the squall line. This is "Tornado Alley" and most residents are more aware and concerned about weather threats with very good cause.
Just after launch to the left, storm to the right

- Microbursts and squalls sometimes but not always preceded by lulls, as happened in this case. The winds died and his kite dropped to the water. He apparently dropped his kite to the leash in the lull. The sudden lull may have saved the kiters life. Winds subsequently boosted to a reported 70 mph from reports on shore. Heavy rain and perhaps hail followed. His kite leash broke under the wind load sending the kite off to another part of the lake. The kiter pelted by hail, swam in to shore on the other side of the lake. Water was 44 F with the air over 70 F due to a dramatic rise.

- He was reportedly riding a 5 year old 12 m C kite

- Videos shot of the rider from shore (left) and a poor one from his helmet (right) appear below.
This was on radar for days approaching the area. This was just around the time of the microburst near the "X."
This front and the violence of the leading edge was more than obvious on National Radar, for days before.


RickI 04-13-2010 11:36 AM

Under some circumstances it might be concluded this person might have been intending to commit suicide. Outwardly, this doesn't appear to be the case.

Who in their right mind, living with such violent local weather hazards, destruction of large areas for years would want to go kiting in such a system? Add to this all the abundant warnings, high wind estimates, large hail and visible lightening. There isn't a small enough kite to take out in this stuff of any type.

Microbursts can send out "straight line" winds on the order of 60 to 160 mph over a small area of about 2 miles in diameter. Microbursts occur widely geographically.

This same system, did this in a closely adjoining area;

and ripped down this brick building wall and roof in a nearby state;

Microbursts have also done:

and a great deal more including crashing several commercial jets with loss of life.

More info about microburst at:

RickI 04-13-2010 11:36 AM

I am intentionally avoiding identifying the location of this near fatality, aka incident. The irresponsible acts of one misguided individual shouldn't cost access to other kiters. Still, kiters should be aware of acts like this and the many reasons to work hard never to be in this sort of situation.

Many kiters have been killed and many more severely injured in winds far less than this. Going out minutes before a squall cloud appearing like it drifted out of hell is foolish in the extreme. YOU HAVE NO IDEA what the wind is going to do, die, boost to 150 mph or a mere 50 to 80 mph, stall your kite, wrap lines around your neck, arms, relaunch and slice or strangle you as you ski across the water, etc.. The kite easily could have rained line down on this guy when it stalled as in other cases. Lots of variations that could and have happened already. There is no kite in existence to that can handle this conditions, kiter either. Add in 44 F water, lightening, large hail (anyone up for getting pelted in the head with high speed 2" ice balls from 40,000 ft.?) while other riders sensibly sat this one out? I understand he was told not to go out but chose to anyway. Hope they don't lose access over this. I also hope the rider, comes down to earth and learns how close he came to checking out in a lousy minutes long session, permanently.

RickI 04-14-2010 07:35 AM

Some more has been posted about this incident, including:

Have evaluated hundreds of kiteboarding accidents and incidents worldwide since 2000, including some of my own. Squalls cause a large percentage of them. These accidents aren't random, there are often obvious causes. Just as in flying and bluewater sailing, you need to do weather planning to try to avoid becoming a statistic yourself. These frontal squall lines rake across much of the country including Florida for a good portion of the year. They are obvious, predictable and can be extremely hazardous in some cases. These systems commonly spawn tornados, microbursts, high wind, lightening, hail and lots of damage this time of year in large areas of the country. Some ideas on weather planning and monitoring appear at: &

What was known before that kiteboarding session?
- Severe Storm Warning w/ 65 to 75 mph winds, lightening & large hail forecast
- Tornado warnings
- If you looked at color radar, something kiters worldwide now do routinely, you would have seen this same severe system about to pass over
- An obvious severe storm cloud with intense green gust front and rain band minutes away.
- Anyone with experience would know a hazardous system was going to pass over within minutes and not to launch into it.

What size kite do you fly in 65 to 75 mph winds perhaps gusting to 100 mph+? You don't, they don't exist nor does the skill to keep flying through such conditions. Even a totally depowered kite can harm you in such winds or break away if you're lucky. Usually, you can't tell what winds a squall will throw down, you just need to avoid them. In this case, there was an unusual amount of good information, in advance.

admin 04-14-2010 12:29 PM

Just put up a shorter version of some ideas for weather planning, monitoring to try to avoid hazards like this at:

Whitey 04-14-2010 07:29 PM

Darwin Award !!!

The Kite House 04-14-2010 10:58 PM

what an idiot!!!!

People are making me look smarter everyday.....and thats not an easy thing to do

probley thinks this is cool as well, oh well we know the end of the story for this type of kiter.

RickI 04-15-2010 09:48 AM

Hey Paul,

What do you think would happen to someone with a 12 m kite up in a 70 mph gust from something like this? Would be interested in your take. From what I have seen over the years, severe injury even death seems fairly likely. In seconds you go from being on the water to lofted, possibly quite high approaching the wind speed to impact. Whether you hit water or land, really may not matter all that much with the combined wind speed and free fall rate as far as survival.

The Kite House 04-17-2010 09:06 AM

They are just coming out of the wood work. Had a friend inform someone down here traded a outboard motor for a kite complete set up. The proud new owner of the kite set up decided to get it a whirl.

That was friday
wind was 30-36
i was on 6 meter
he bought a 12 meter

no worries, since he wasnt sure of the power, he decided to play it safe. HE TIED A ROPE TO HIMSELF AND I THINK TO A DOCK SO HE WOULD NOT GET BLOWN AWAY.

I guess we know how this ends, not sure of full end result but wasnt pretty....

remember carolina rick? I think this guy got lucky, but man, another one for idiot of the day.

villin 04-17-2010 10:24 AM

Goodbye, you are the weakest link!

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