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

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Tom183
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Re: You are kiting and you see these clouds: what do you do?

Postby Tom183 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:23 pm

I'm sorry Toby, but after reading your stories it's clear you didn't learn lesson #1: come in BEFORE the storm gets close.

Your 2nd and 3rd stories have the same mistakes that get people killed: launching when bad conditions are nearby, and staying out when bad conditions are approaching.

You got lucky, and a lot of guys do - but you can't play those odds repeatedly and expect to win in the long run.

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

Postby RickI » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:11 pm

I just updated a long standing post dealing with Weather Planning and Monitoring for kiteboarding located at:
viewtopic.php?f=131&t=2300711

I would recommend paying particular attention to the steps outline in the middle post dealing with monitoring and planning.


There are a few more photos of threatening clouds HERE

Toby, I following the reasoning in your first two stories and am glad things worked out for you in the third instance. The problem is pursuing #3 in all storms will likely see folks killed in some squalls. The winds may simply be too strong or their gear may not operate as intended.

Best advice is to properly secure on shore well before threatening winds arrive. If the kiter screws up bigtime and is still offshore when mounting winds start, immediately Emergency Depower. Seconds can count at this critical phase. Emergency Depowering means to drop your kite to your well tested, functioning leash with traditional C kites, push your bar all the way out with flat kites, tension your fifth line fully depowering your kite with those systems. In all instances be ready to open your secondary release to set the kite free if necessary. You shouldn't have immediate concerns about staying afloat given your well developed swimming skills and the impact vest/flotation you have on, right?

Just riding it out may work if winds don't go too high. You never really know in advance how high they will go. This has been established too many times in various parts of the world over many years through tragic avoidable losses and incidents.

FKA, Inc.

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

Postby marina » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:56 pm

you also need to be aware of air temperature changes, shifts in wind, squall lines on the water, big dead patches on the water, etc. i.e. use all your senses when kiting in less than optimal conditions.

Remember the french guy that got lofted a couple hundred feet up and 600 feet vertically in that squall in CAbarete many years back? That was black clouds building on the horizon which nobody reallly paid attention to because they were forming west to east and the wind was blowing east to west around 15. Within less than 5 minutes, the clouds quickly filled in and produced a sand storm 50mph+ for 3 hours!

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

Postby sarc » Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:18 pm

daft wrote: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.

I think you are spot on, there was a severe weather warning inland and looks like that cloud was supposed to be it, but nothing much happened I guess because the winds blew the top off before it could develop into a storm cloud.

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

Postby RickI » Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:20 pm

Image

Yes, Marina that was an incredible squall lofting of a kiter in Cabarete. Thank you for all your help in hooking me up with the rider and other data at the time in 2002? More about Pato's lofting at:
http://www.kiteforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=2318354

I was just looking around, it is amazing at how quickly these posts need updating. Just came across the following that bears on this discussion. It involved the wide spread incidence of squalls across southern Florida on one day. It describes gust front "white out" through sheer violent wind gusts similar to what airsurfer encountered in the Turks & Caicos. It would be good to learn more of the specifics in your storm incident in the Turks if possible.

More input from Oceanplay

RickI wrote:Oceanplay called and filled in some more details. We owe him special thanks for posting his experiences on here. Nothing like a real life example to sharpen the critical importance of something in people's minds.

The incident happened between 3:30 and 4 pm. He was on a 10 m flat kite. The wind had risen, flattened out the waves somewhat has they rode north on the downwinder in strong SSE winds. Suddenly he saw a white wall rushing towards him from the south and it was on him before he knew it. Visibility plummeted to where he could barely see his kite 25 yards away, the wind roared like a freight train and his kite spun crazily with explosive changes in wind direction. He was holding the bar out and panic at bay, thinking mechanically about what he needed to do. He wasn't lofted but was expecting to be as he was dragged around. He guessed the squall was on him for about five minutes but it could have been less you lose sense of time in such cases.

Image
From: http://www.weathermichigan.com

I think he saw the approaching gust front of a supercell storm cloud. It was blasting ocean spray (almost like oceanplay, funny?) up into a wall before the rapidly advancing squall. He mentioned the radical wind direction changes.

Such changes could shower a kiter with falling line, allow the kite to relaunch and get cheese sliced, dragged/lofted into whatever without anyway to depower or simply be drowned as has sadly happened in the recent past in tragic fatal accidents in Spain, Hungary and the Ukraine. You can't know in advance what will happen in a squall.

In looking at real time wind graphs these direction changes are a give away of squall activity such as shown below:

Image

You look for these conditions upweather and work hard to AVOID THEM.

Image
Pretend all that dust is actually water. Do you really want to try to ride through one of these with a kite up?
From: http://skydiary.com/gallery/chase2001/chase2001f.html

Lastly, squalls occur WORLDWIDE. Kiters have been killed and injured in squalls/storms in many sections of the USA, Europe, Asia, Oceania, etc.. This is far from a Florida problem. Weather planning and monitoring make good sense. More about this in the first several posts at: http://www.kiteforum.com/viewforum.php?f=131 , in particular http://www.kiteforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=131&t=2323430

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi



Continued HERE

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

Postby Tom183 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:41 pm

Toby - after reading your stories it seems you didn't really learn the lesson from story #1: come in BEFORE the storm gets close.

Your 2nd and 3rd stories have the same mistakes that get people killed: going out when bad conditions are nearby, and staying out when bad conditions are approaching. Encouraging a beginner to go out in those conditions is pretty reprehensible, and it's doubly stupid to ride near storms without a reliable QR or leash (and a reliable QR on your leash). Maybe that was long ago when we didn't know any better - we know now. And your "lessons learned" (particularly from story #3) are just a grab bag of survival techniques for an extreme situation - and the best survival techique always is to AVOID those situations.

Maybe that sounds harsh or over-cautious, especially since you didn't get hurt, but the truth is like many others you simply got lucky. Unfortunately, you can't play those odds repeatedly and expect to win in the long run - some guys didn't get a second chance.

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

Postby naishkiter10882 » Thu Jun 12, 2008 12:15 am

Hey Rick, or anyone else who can answer this..

1. what is the diference btwn. the cumulus and cumubilis clouds when they are dark or white.
2. what is the diference betweeen a dark shelf cloud and a white one

I know your gonna say the obvious.. but in matters of wind, what is the difference. Sometimes i see white ones some times a see dark ones i dont know what the diference in wind is, thanks.

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

Postby RickI » Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:24 am

Whether a cloud appears white, grey or black has to do with light absorption and reflection. The greater the absorption, the darker the cloud. The less absorption and the greater the reflection, the lighter or white it will appear. Absorption is related to thickness of the absorbing media, the cloud and the nature of the moisture droplets therein. Less spacing with finer droplets as in fog, the more light absorbed. If heavy rain is present it can appear quite dark with minimal reflection and lots of absorption. If you are looking at a cumulonimbus cloud in the distance with the sun behind you it may appear quite white as in the example below:

Image

If you are beneath it looking up through all that dense moisture it can look pretty dark. In the case of a gust front, the darkness can be caused by dust swept up and carried along in all that violent turbulent wind before the cloud.

Regarding wind, frankly, you've got me. Cumulonimbus and shelf clouds have the potential to toss off violent, rapidly changing wind in terms of velocity and direction, hail, tornados, bursts, even extreme uplift at altitude. They also can very commonly kill the wind entirely at some point. Cloud suck really sucks for hang gliders and paragliders. Doesn't seem to be an issue for near sea level kiteboarders fortunately. We need to assume cumulousnimbus and shelf clouds have the potential to kick our butts and react defensively and early on too to land and secure. It is less clear when strong winds will be present and when they won't simply by looking at the clouds. Interpreting doppler radar, soundings, realtime wind upweather and other considerations seem to be necessary to attempt to accurately forecast whether a given cloud is going to whump you or not. In practice cumulonimbus clouds bring more violent winds very commonly in my area with shelf clouds bringing the same thing less often. This doesn't mean the odd shelf cloud won't slam you with 60 mph or even 120 mph winds from a burst because they will. Behavior may be quite different in other areas. Best advice, ALWAYS assume these clouds can mess you up, even kill you and react properly in advance. 747's won't fly near them but we will using a massive drouge-like device the size of a car without an airframe, engines, safety systems or much else. Sounds stupid in the extreme to me, not much theory in this given all the accidents over the years.

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
Last edited by RickI on Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Postby naishkiter10882 » Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:37 am

Wow thanks so much Rick! that explained so much.

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

Postby RickI » Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:33 pm

You're welcome, we really need to tune into weather more. It's what drives us, right?


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