Kiteboarding and Cold Fronts
Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2005 2:33 am
A couple more comments about cold fronts and kiteboarding. Checkout the detailed ikitesurf windgraph shown above.
From forecasts, WE KNEW that heavy winds were coming with the arrival of a cold front 30 to 35 mph, gusting to gale force!). I had been looking at the forecast of strong winds for at least 4 days prior to their arrival. Kiters being the wind junkies they are, I am sure LOTs of others were staring at the same forecasts.
Do you see how strong winds were "turned on" very suddenly at around 5:30 am. Lets ignore for the moment that it is unlikely that anyone would be flying a kite at that hour, fronts can strike at anytime, 24 hours per day. After all it hit a 9:30 am about 135 miles south at the launch where the incident happened.
So you are riding in about 15 mph with minimal gusts say from about 13 to 17 mph, pretty steady stuff right. Lots of us might be out on 13 to 16 m kites, some perhaps rigged even bigger. Todays kites do have a WIDE wind range after all.
Let's say you don't see the clouds of the front coming, in this case black and nasty or at other times high altitude cumulous clouds and still other times ???. Altocumulous clouds really don't look all that threatening at all and still they can come with a strong boost in winds.
From: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~tgillesp/group-seq4-6.htm (a good site to look at)
Let's also say you didn't bother to checkout the forecast, realtime winds up the coast that are already getting hit by the front or radar. You miss it, totally.
So you are out on your 16 m riding 100 yards offshore and the frontal winds hit, suddenly. The wind boosts from 15 mph to 43 mph+. You are on a 16 m and unless you are unhooked and let go, chances are your butt is toast. The kite is now imparting at least 16 TIMES the power that it was just before everything hit the fan. You may be lofted, very high, dragged or both, perhaps repeatedly.
Weather planning and monitoring are JUST as important in kiteboarding as they are to airplane pilots. Your craft, kite, has reasonable operating limits just like an airplane. If you exceed that envelope, perhaps by a lot as in the case, you could be severely injured. If you drop your kite to leash successfully it is very likely that the leash attachment may be ripped away from you and off goes your kite. If your leash attachment doesn't rip free, your kite may have enough residual power even though you have dropped it to leash in such a gust (mid 40 mph+), to drag you anyway.
Some more info on fronts appears at: http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/wwhlp ... rxml&prv=1