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You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby airsurfer » Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:44 am

it's never too early to come in trust your instincts.

I got caught in a squall in Turks and Caicos during a late season tropical storm. It came in way faster than I expected. Side on conditions so I decided to ride it out in the ocean rather than try to beat it to shore and possibly get lofted into something hard. I released the CL flagged the kite (8M SB-II) out out before all hell broke loose 50knots at least total white out couldn't see anything. I was still dragging on the leash at relatively high speed lost my favorite board but not my life:) I was wearing a helmet and an impact vest with decent floatation. It was scary I was very lucky and will do my best never to be in that situation again.

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby sarc » Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:35 am

Thanks guys based on your info I decided just seeing a cumulus is no reason to go home. I will keep kiting next time and keep my eyes open. I clouds get close then I will pack up!
Good tip about checking all directions as storms can develop upwind not just downwind.

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby mx5alan » Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:56 am

Richard wrote:In my area, thunderstorms often form about 20-30 miles from where I kite. Usually they don't affect my kiting. But sometimes they move closer to the beach and can either increase the wind or sometimes decrease it. I call it quits when one approaches, because lightning is very unpredictable.

So, whenever you see the anvil shape of a forming thunderstorm, it is smart to keep a close eye on it and take action if necessary.

Richard
and to add, Lightning can strike anything upto 10 miles away from the main strorm...

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby sarc » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:48 am

I know that people have died from lightning strikes windsurfing while rigging on land (the mast is made of conductive carbon), never heard while on the water, anyway I'll take Rick's word that noone yet got a bolt while kitesurfing (wouldn't it be something - make a nice mega jump and just when at the apex PZZZZZZZZZAT!! Just like Scrat in the Ice Age movie....)

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby eldadgold » Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:20 am

sarc wrote:We had a thunderstorm warning for inland (not coastal areas), I was out on quite irregular wind, oscillating 20 to 27 knots, then I saw this cloud forming over maybe 30 minutes - growing vertically upwards then sideways. Seemed pretty far out (maybe 30+Km) but I packed up anyway. Did I waste a hard-earned kiting day? Seems like a cumulus cloud, and I hear they can influence wind pretty far out - however nothing much happened (except strange little puff clouds flying very low near the beach - maybe 100 meters altitude. It was hot and humid). Any meterologist advice? When is a cumuls safe - when it's out of sight?? Thanxx
IMG0035A.jpg
A Comolus cloud is O.K.
A comolunimbus or CB cloud is VERY dangerouse. it can make a jumbo jet hit the ground with engines at 107% !!!
from what i can see in the pic the cloud is'nt a CB cloud although it has it's shape- a CB cloud looks like an anvil. it shoots up and then grows sideways.

anyway it's always better being on the safeside.

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby RickI » Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:53 am

Question, why do commercial and private pilots refuse to fly in conditions with far more airworthy aircraft, training, extensive safety aids and weather information that kiteboarders fairly commonly expose themselves to? Things like supercells, squall lines, microbursts, hurricanes and other strong tropical systems.

Here's another question, why have some well trained pilots fallen victim to these same violent weather systems while kiting? Shifting hazard perception?

We are far from immune to lightning strikes as kiters. Ignoring conductive considerations or lack thereof, we're still a strike target on the surface. I just haven't heard about losses of that nature yet, wouldn't surprise me if we fall victim some day sad to say. We need to take precautions to avoid lighting strikes regardless of our track record to date. I had heard about lightning strikes on windsurfers on the water before but no fatalities. Could you provide more details Sarc here or via PM?

The critical point in this in my view is that kiters seem to be more concerned about avoiding being taken out by a lightning strike and often discount a proven, way too often repeated killer, violent winds. I'm still trying to figure out why after all these years. Maybe lofting 165 ft. into a house clears your perception, once your brain starts working again properly some months later.

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby EdDy_DiFfUsIvItY » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:47 am

eldadgold wrote:
sarc wrote:We had a thunderstorm warning for inland (not coastal areas), I was out on quite irregular wind, oscillating 20 to 27 knots, then I saw this cloud forming over maybe 30 minutes - growing vertically upwards then sideways. Seemed pretty far out (maybe 30+Km) but I packed up anyway. Did I waste a hard-earned kiting day? Seems like a cumulus cloud, and I hear they can influence wind pretty far out - however nothing much happened (except strange little puff clouds flying very low near the beach - maybe 100 meters altitude. It was hot and humid). Any meterologist advice? When is a cumuls safe - when it's out of sight?? Thanxx
IMG0035A.jpg
A Comolus cloud is O.K.
A comolunimbus or CB cloud is VERY dangerouse. it can make a jumbo jet hit the ground with engines at 107% !!!
from what i can see in the pic the cloud is'nt a CB cloud although it has it's shape- a CB cloud looks like an anvil. it shoots up and then grows sideways.

anyway it's always better being on the safeside.
Cumulonimbus clouds usually form from cumulus clouds at a much lower height, thus making them, like cumulus clouds, grow vertically instead of horizontally, thus giving the cumulonimbus its mushroom shape. The base of a cumulonimbus can be several miles across, and it can be tall enough to occupy middle as well as low altitudes; though formed at an altitude of about 3,000 to 4,000 meters (10,000 to 12,000 feet), its peak can reach up to 23,000 meters (75,000 feet) in extreme cases. Typically, it peaks at a much lower height (usually up to 5,000 meters / 16,500 feet).

Well-developed cumulonimbus clouds are also characterized by a flat, anvil-like top (anvil dome), caused by straight line winds at the higher altitudes which shear off the top of the cloud, as well as by an inversion over the thunderstorm caused by rising temperatures above the tropopause. This anvil shape can precede the main cloud structure for many miles, causing anvil lightning.

Cumulonimbus clouds = heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Cumulonimbus clouds can be subdivided into several species:

Cumulonimbus calvus- cloud with puffy top, looking like cumulus congestus, but larger;
Cumulonimbus capillatus - cloud with cirrus-like, fibrous-edged top;
Cumulonimbus praecipitatio
Cumulonimbus virga
Cumulonimbus pannus
Cumulonimbus incus - subtype of Cumulonimbus capillatus, with flat anvil-like top.
Cumulonimbus mammatus
Cumulonimbus pileus
Cumulonimbus velum
Cumulonimbus arcus
Cumulonimbus tuba

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby sarc » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:54 am

eldadgold wrote:
sarc wrote:We had a thunderstorm warning for inland (not coastal areas), I was out on quite irregular wind, oscillating 20 to 27 knots, then I saw this cloud forming over maybe 30 minutes - growing vertically upwards then sideways. Seemed pretty far out (maybe 30+Km) but I packed up anyway. Did I waste a hard-earned kiting day? Seems like a cumulus cloud, and I hear they can influence wind pretty far out - however nothing much happened (except strange little puff clouds flying very low near the beach - maybe 100 meters altitude. It was hot and humid). Any meterologist advice? When is a cumuls safe - when it's out of sight?? Thanxx
The attachment IMG0035A.jpg is no longer available
A Comolus cloud is O.K.
A comolunimbus or CB cloud is VERY dangerouse. it can make a jumbo jet hit the ground with engines at 107% !!!
from what i can see in the pic the cloud is'nt a CB cloud although it has it's shape- a CB cloud looks like an anvil. it shoots up and then grows sideways.

anyway it's always better being on the safeside.
This is a pic of a cumulusnimbus from Google Images. I stopped kiting because I vaguely remembered it and my cloud looked sort of like it. I need to know what's a safe distance. I'm going with 10 miles/15Km based on your feedback. So if I see it again at 30-40 Km and no lightning I'll keep kiting! Makes sense yes?
cumulusnimbus.JPG
cumulusnimbus.JPG (2.69 KiB) Viewed 867 times
Last edited by sarc on Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:58 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby Toby » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:54 am

here some stories and experiences:

I saw once a dark cloud coming...directly onshore wind...in 2001.
No quick release, just a velcro on my wrist, with a leash too short...

Story 1:

Great day, stayed out until the cloud was really close, so I decided to go in.
Luckily I unhooked and flew the kite low, so someone could catch it, but about 100m from shore the big gust hit...and I got yanked behind the kite, and then let go...since the leash was too short, the kite looped and the line broke, so the kite flew away, and after some windsurfers tried to catch it, it flew further on into trees. Lucky, no one gut hurt, but could have been really bad!

Lesson learned: come in early enough, don't wait too long until the gust hits! It can turn an awesome day into a kitemare for you and others

Story 2:

With a friend, who couldn't stay upwind yet, I drove to a huge beach and area. We launched in about 15 knots and he was quickly downwind. We had sideshore wind, but out on the ocean was a big, dark cloud. Well, with sideshore it is no problem, right?
But I thought, better go close to him, so I kited downwind. Once I reached him, our kites started to stall. They fell down onto the beach and I lucky reacted quickly and yelled: get the kites, hold them down. So we immediately caught the kites and 30 sec later the 30-40 knots gusts hit with onshore winds and the dark cloud came to us!

Lesson learned: always be aware of what is around, no matter the wind direction. If the kites stall and fall out of the sky, immediately get to your kite and hold on to it, since the wind is about to change direction and do something not pleasant.

Story 3:

Riding in ok strong winds, dark clouds come closer. Then the wind increases to 30+ knots. Being on a 12 with my 95 kg I can manage it, but was at my limit with the 35+ knots. No one on the beach, the other riders on the water trying to survive as well.
Should I kite close to shore and release? Knowing many stories and experienced failures of my quick releases as well over the last years, I rather stay out instead of getting yanked behind a kite because of a qr failure...but the power is hard, and I'm fighting. So finally I see the other kiters came down and I give signs that I need help landing my kite. Once I got attention, I fly my kite low just above the water, ride very slow to keep control, so the kite helper can catch the kite while being in the air. If I feel, the helper cannot catch it, I kite out again and will try again. Because I don't want to be on land with an overpowered kite!

Lesson learned: you can hold down big gusts on water. It is safer to stay out on the water (if not offshore or cold water), than trying to land your kite in these winds on shore.
You can release, but be aware of lines get stuck and the kites still pull or even worse, loop!
Fly your kite just above the water, here it has the least amount of power, because it is at the very edge of the wind window. And you can edge harder. Ride very slow, otherwise you will loose the grip of the edge and then the control over the kite and its power.
Give sign to someone on the beach that you want to land (hand on your head). Once someone sees you and gets ready to help, keep flying the kite low and ride even slower, if possible. The helper on land needs to catch the kite while flying in the air. If he misses to catch it, fly the kite slowly up again, ride a bit further out, and start coming back again, kite low. Don't get on shore with the kite up in the air. Normally, you only get hurt on shore!

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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby daft » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:59 am

Not very ominous looking IIRC, although I wouldn't kite downwind of it. That cloud isn't "growing" sideways so much as being decapitated by strong winds above (but still not very high). It is shearing off it's growth into a mature storm by thwarting major vertical circulation. It's just too narrow, shallow, and isolated by blue dry air to look like some proto nimbo-frankenstein, although worth keeping an eye on trends.

It's true that dangerous stormclouds can take that anvil shape, but they tend to be darker, wider and above all have higher tops. The anvil shape represents their limits of growth, not a portent of more growth. A possible exception is pre-tornado clouds which have a strange process of converting that shear into a rolling horizontal vortex which then turns vertical, but not likely from an isolated puff of white.


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