Seasons weren’t a thing for me when growing up; in fact, most of the places I’ve been to have had really mild climates, so I have never experienced the chill of winter snow, or the sizzle of summer heat. In this article, we will be tackling the question of whether you can fly a kite in winter.
Can you fly a kite in the winter? The answer is YES, you can! Kite flying is dependant mostly on wind, and as long as there is a breeze, you will be able to fly a kite in the winter.
However, there are other factors and conditions that will make it easier for you to fly a kite in winter, especially if you are a beginner. The below information will also give you some tips on keeping yourself safe while flying a kite in the winter.
Kiting flying is more commonly seen during the more clement weather of Spring, Summer, and even Fall. Flying a kite in Winter may be harder depending on the following weather conditions: wind, precipitation, and light levels. We delve deeper into these factors to make your kite flying experience in Winter a more pleasant one.
Wind is a major factor in kite flying; after all, kites are dependant on the force of moving air to stay afloat. However, overly strong winds can cause your kite string to snap or your kite to be blow away. Having too-gentle breezes will also make it harder for you to keep your kite in the air. A third factor that you would would experience in Winter is the windchill factor.
Wind speeds determine how easy it would be to launch and fly your kite across all seasons. Below is a guide on wind speeds and how it can affect kite flying. This is based off the Beaufort Wind Force Scale, or the Beaufort Scale for short.
0 to 7 mph winds
On days when there is little to no wind, as a beginner you may struggle to launch your kite or even keep it afloat. However, certain kites do well with light winds. The more experience kite-flyer will also be able to launch kites easily.
|Beaufort Number||Description||Wind Speed||Land Conditions|
|0||Calm||< 1 mph||Smoke rising vertically.|
|1||Light air||1-3 mph||Direction of wind shown by smoke drift, but not by wind vanes.|
|2||Light breeze||4-7 mph||Wind felt on face; leaves rustling; wind vane moving.|
8 to 24mph winds
If you have a light beginner’s kite, the following wind conditions are perfect for launching and flying kites. Do ensure that you fly away from trees and any above-ground power lines so that your kite does not get entangled in them if it accidentally drifts away from you.
|Beaufort Number||Description||Wind Speed||Land Conditions|
|3||Gentle breeze||8-12 mph||Leaves and small twigs constantly moving.|
|4||Moderate breeze||13-18 mph||Small branches and loose paper moving; raises dust.|
|5||Fresh breeze||19-24 mph||Small leafy trees beginning to sway.|
25 to 38 mph winds
These wind speeds are when you’ll start to struggle using an umbrella in. These are generally less-than-stellar conditions for beginners to fly a kite in. There is also a higher chance for the windchill factor to affect you. I would caution against flying a kite in these windy conditions. If your kite string snaps, or if you accidentally let go of your kite string, these winds can very quickly take your kite far away from you. You also do not want to be chasing a flyaway kite in such cold and potentially dangerous conditions.
|Beaufort Number||Description||Wind Speed||Land Conditions|
|6||Strong breeze||25-31 mph||Large branches start moving; whistling sounds.|
|7||High winds; moderate to near gale winds||32-38 mph||Whole trees start moving; walking against the wind will start to prove difficult.|
The Windchill Factor
What is the windchill factor? Simply put, it is the temperature that you feel due to the wind. For example, a thermometer may read 35 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and there is a wind blowing at 25 miles per hour (mph), the windchill factor would cause it to feel like it is 8 degrees F instead. This causes your body to lose heat as if it was 8 degrees F outside.
The windchill factor is the same effect that causes you to blow on hot soup to cool it down. The movement of the air increases the soup’s loss of heat by convection, so the soup cools down faster.
Why is the windchill factor included here? This effect will cause you to lose body heat faster than usual during Winter, which can be dangerous when your attention is diverted to flying a kite. You should always be wearing comfortable and warm winter attire when flying your kite outside during Winter. Once you start feeling that it’s too cold, you should head back inside to warm up.
Precipitation is the water that falls from the clouds towards the ground. Most days of the year, precipitation is simply rain. Sometimes, it’s hail. During winter, we are more likely to get 4 different types of precipitation: rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow.
Generally, the precipitation type that reaches the ground is dependent on how high the freezing layer is in the atmosphere to get below 32°F. If the entire layer of the atmosphere is above 32°F, there will be rain. If it is entirely below freezing from the atmosphere layer to the ground, there will be snow.
However, an warm layer in between is where the other two precipitation types can then be formed. If the warm layer is thin and shallow, snow will melt on its way down to the ground, turning into raindrops. When these raindrops pass into a layer of cold air closer to the surface, they then refreeze into ice pellets. These ice pellets are commonly known as sleet. These little balls of ice tend to bounce off many surfaces (i.e. car windshields, windows etc.) making a distinct “pinging” sound.
A thicker warm layer, however, will cause these newly melted raindrops to remain unfrozen and have little to no time to refreeze into sleet before reaching the ground. If the temperature at ground level is at or below 32°F, the raindrops will freeze on contact and create a layer of ice. This is known as freezing rain and can result in forming solid sheets of ice on roads, trees, structures, electrical lines, and cars.
Rain during winter is usually dreary and cold. You can still fly a kite while raining, however are there many safety risks while doing so.
|Wet weather||Being in wet weather can cause you to catch a cold or worse. If your kite is wet and accidentally comes in contact with an above-ground power line, your kite could become a conduit for electricity. If you are holding on to the kite string while this happens, it could potentially be fatal.|
|Lightning||Depending on the severity of the rains, you may have a thunderstorm. Flying a kite during a thunderstorm is a definite no-no. Your kite can be a conductor of electricity if it is struck by a lightning bolt.|
There are also other practical considerations. When your kite is weighed down by rain, it is much harder for it to stay afloat even if there are strong winds. This is also true for your kite string, and these 2 factors combined could keep your kite earthbound.
If the raindrops are heavy, and you have a light kite made out of paper, you could potentially be heading home with a broken kite due to rain soaking through. Keep yourself safe, and prevent your kite (and heart) from being broken by staying indoors during the rain.
As mentioned above, freezing rain occurs when melted raindrops refreeze on ground level, thus forming a layer of ice, also known as glaze or glaze ice. As such, freezing rain is one of the most hazardous types of precipitation during the winter months.
When freezing rain is light (like a drizzle), the layer of ice is thin, and usually causes minor damage i.e. breaking off a tree’s dead branches. However, when freezing rain is much heavier, a thicker layer of ice is formed. This has several consequences such as (but not limited to):
- Tree limbs can break off due to the heavy weight and damage structures and above-ground power lines. Windy conditions can exacerbate this.
- Power lines coated with ice become extremely heavy; this can cause support poles, insulators, and the lines themselves to break.
- This can cause power outages, which can mean places which rely on electricity for heating/survival will have to find alternatives.
- Bridges, roads, and metal surfaces are coated with a clear, thin layer of ice that makes them slippery. This is often referred to as “black ice” as it is nearly invisible to drivers and users of such surfaces. This can cause vehicles to lose traction and slide around, potentially leading to accidents.
- People can slip and fall on wet ice, which can cause bodily injury.
- Icicles can form; due to their spear-like shape, they can cause injury or damage to items below them when they fall.
Freezing rain and glaze ice on a large scale is called an ice storm. Effects on plants can be severe, as they cannot support the weight of the ice. Trees may snap as they are dormant and fragile during winter weather. Pine trees are also victims of ice storms as their needles will catch the ice, but not be able to support the weight.
The ice from freezing rain is often difficult to remove. Roads can be salted or sanded, but this doesn’t always remove the ice; unless the ice layer is thicker and easier to break up, snow plows don’t usually work either. More often than not, the only way to get rid of ice formed from freezing rain is to wait for it to melt.
I cannot recommend enough that you stay indoors when you can see evidence of freezing rain. It’s bad enough to fly a kite while slipping and sliding around; it is so much more dangerous if there are vehicles nearby that can cause an accident. Your kite could also become weighed down or damaged with the rain.
Sleet is made up of translucent balls of ice from frozen raindrops. These are usually ice pellets up to 5mm in diameter, and will bounce when it hits a surface, making a ‘pinging’ sound. This is different from hail, which are usually bigger balls of ice, and can cause major damage with just a few balls of hail.
Sleet can sting you when it hits you. While it can pack down snow, it also can accumulate in an icy, slushy mess on the ground. This can create slick spots on surfaces like roads, which can cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles.
Similar to freezing rain, sleet can cause you to slip and slide if you are focused on flying your kite instead of focusing on your safety. At the same time, if you have a beginner’s kite, there is slight potential for sleet to damage your kite by changing the tension in the kite’s material (sleet stretching the material as it hits). Also, who wants to fly a kite while getting stung in the face by sleet?
Snow is soft and fluffy and fun to make snow angels in! However, if it’s snowing heavily, that will reduce visibility. If there are any strong winds, you will also find it harder to control your kite.
If you must fly a kite during winter, it might be wise to wait till the weather is clear, and there is a thin layer of snow on the ground. Having a thick layer of snow to walk through is not fun at all, especially when you’re trying to control a kite!
Flying a kite in the day is easy and safe. You can see where your kite and kite string are, and if they will be colliding with something due to the wind. In case your kite decides to explore the world aka fly away, there’s a higher chance of you being able to see where it goes or lands in the daytime.
However, while flying a kite at dusk can be pretty and romantic, it can also mean that you have less vision of where your kite is floating towards. It is a safety risk if you are unable to see your kite floating towards above-ground power lines or towards structures.
If you are wanting to fly a kite at night, make sure you attach LED lights to your kite so that you can see where it is. You should also ensure that the area you’re flying in is well-lit. Nighttime kite-flying, at best, should be left to the professionals.
Through all these different types of weather conditions, one thing that you should always keep in mind is how cold it is, and how quickly temperature can drop. As such, you should always wear warm and comfortable attire when going out in winter. Flying a kite involves lesser movement than most other types of activities; with lesser movement means that your body can grow cold faster, which can be prevented by proper attire.
What should you look out for when you’re wanting to go out to fly a kite in winter? Winter clothing is the best choice for protection against the particularly cold weather of winter.
Winter clothing often have a good water resistance, consist of multiple layers to protect and insulate the body against low temperatures.
Winter clothes can be classified as both outerwear and underwear.
Examples of outwear are:
- Head coverings like hats, beanies
- Hand coverings like gloves, mittens
Examples of underwear are:
- Thermal underwear that specially retain body heat
- Long underwear
- Union suits (a long, one-piece underwear usually for men)
You may have seen specialised winter clothes used for sports and recreation includes ski suits and snowmobile suits. These may not be ideal for kite flying, especially if you are staying near your house when flying your kite. However, before going out to fly your kite, you should always read up on weather conditions and if the weather will deteriorate over the period of time that you intend to be outside.
Once again, you can fly a kite in Winter. Make sure that the weather is clear, and there is sufficient light before you go out. To protect yourself from the cold, make sure to wear enough warm layers of clothes. Have fun and stay safe!