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Old 04-14-2010, 11:20 AM
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Default Weather Planning & Monitoring (short version)

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. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ 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 donít 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.
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/

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.
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/radar_tab.php
http://www.weather.gov/sat_tab.php?image=ir

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.
http://www.weather.gov/outlook_tab.php

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. Itís 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.
http://www.ikitesurf.com/windandwhere.iws?regionID=201

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.
http://www.erh.noaa.gov/lwx/swep/Spotting.html

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 donít get ripped 50í+ 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.

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 http://www.kiteforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=7646 on March 14, 2003
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Last edited by RickI; 06-22-2012 at 01:30 PM.
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