When you think about kite flying, one of the things that you would consider before heading out with your kite in hand is the weather. Most of the time, as long as the weather is clement, there is a breeze, and there isn’t any rain either currently or forecasted, you should head out to fly your kite.
What Are The Factors For Good Kite Flying Weather?
- Wind speeds: Steady breezes will help keep your kite afloat and stable.
- Precipitation: Ideally there won’t be any rain or other types of precipitation, either current or forecasted, when you choose to go out and fly a kite.
- Sunlight and temperatures: Extreme temperatures can cause discomfort while flying, and sunlight levels will affect how well you can see your kite.
When planning to go out and fly your kite, the first thing you should do is to check your local weather forecast; if you are traveling a good distance away from home to fly your kite, make sure to check the weather forecast for that area as well. It would not feel great to travel all the way there only to find out that a storm is in progress or on its way. Remember, safety should be your number 1 priority!
We know that wind is the “engine” that keeps a kite afloat. However, what wind speeds are ideal for kite flying? Overly strong winds can cause your kite line to snap or your kite to be blown away if you are not careful. On the flip side, having too light a breeze can make it difficult to launch your kite or keep it afloat in the air.
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 they can affect kite flying. This is based on the Beaufort Wind Force Scale, or the Beaufort Scale for short. The Beaufort Scale was devised by Francis Beaufort in 1805.
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. The table below shows a few ways to see how fast winds are in your general area.
|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 24 mph winds
If you have a light beginner’s kite, the following wind conditions are perfect for launching and flying kites. Make sure 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
In this range of wind speeds, you will start to struggle using an umbrella, much less flying a kite. 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 potentially dangerous conditions.
These wind speeds are usually also a precursor to thunderstorms or general bad weather. If you are a beginner and the winds start picking up, it is also time to start packing up and heading home!
|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.|
While we have gone into a lot of detail about how strong a wind should blow to be able to launch and fly a kite, a steady wind is the most important factor in keeping your kite in the air.
If you have been in a boat or a ship before, a steady sea prevents you from being tossed about on the boat. Similarly, winds blowing steadily will prevent your kite from being blown around.
When your kite is in the air, and you feel a sudden loss of tension in your kite line, it can mean that the wind has suddenly stopped blowing. To ensure that your kite is still in the sky, reel in some line till you feel tension in your kite line once again before slowly letting the line out.
If your kite is jerking your kite line, it may be facing gusts of wind, also known as turbulence. If this happens, it may be best to let out some kite line instead of trying to fight it. This is so that a gust of wind does not knock your kite over and cause it to crash, or snap the kite line and cause your kite to fly away – I have experienced both and it’s no fun trying to chase after a flyaway kite or to pick up a damaged kite!
What is the windchill factor? 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, instead of it being 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
The windchill factor is more important in Winter, as it can be dangerous to go out in cold weather exacerbated by windchill and your attention is focussed on kite flying instead.
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. You can still go out in light rain to fly a kite, but keep in mind that not only will you get wet, but your kite will also get wet and the sail material could discolor or tear.
If you do choose to fly a kite in Winter, it is definitely possible! However, keep in mind that with Winter comes 3 other types of precipitation apart from rain: freezing rain, sleet, and snow. We have an excellent article about kite flying in the Winter months, which we suggest you read if you are planning to fly a kite in Winter.
Rain is usually dreary and cold, although in warmer countries you could experience warm rain. 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 (or hail) soaking through. Keep yourself safe, and prevent your kite (and heart) from being broken by staying indoors during the rain. Read more about flying a kite in the rain here.
In Winter, 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.
Freezing rain can cause the following situations:
- Tree limbs can break off due to the added weight of ice, and in turn 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 users of such surfaces, which can cause 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 (or humans!) below them when they fall.
I cannot recommend enough that you stay indoors when you can see evidence of freezing rain. It is difficult enough to fly a kite without 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 when it hits you. 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.
If it is snowing heavily, you will have reduced 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 trudge through is not fun at all, especially when you’re trying to control a kite!
Sunlight and Temperatures
The sun’s rays make us feel and look good, however the looking good part isn’t a long-term thing. Prolonged exposure to sun can cause wrinkles and age spots on our faces.
At the same time, extremely hot or cold temperatures can make it difficult to concentrate on kite flying. Your safety should be the number one priority when kite flying in extreme temperatures, so make sure you gear up for that.
Sun exposure causes most of the skin changes that we think are a normal part of aging. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays damage the fibers in our skin called elastin. When elastin breaks down, it causes skin to sag or stretch with little chance of it returning to normal.
Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of all cancers in the U.S. and the number of cases continues to rise. Skin cancer is the uncontrolled and rapid growth of abnormal skin cells, which leads to tumors. Tumors can either be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).
UV radiation from the sun is the number-one cause of skin cancer (UV light from tanning beds are harmful too!). Exposure to sunlight during Winter puts you at the same risk as being exposed to sunlight during summertime, because UV rays are present in the day.
When going out to fly a kite, it is always wise to apply sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater at least 20 minutes before going out, and every 2 hours thereafter.
You should also wear sunglasses that offer UV protection, as you will be looking up to the sky often.
You could also wear a sun hat to protect your head from the sun, along with sensible clothes that will not cause you to overheat, but also protects your skin from sunlight.
In the hot months, especially in Summer, make sure to follow the guidelines above to protect your skin while flying your kite. You should also ensure that you stay hydrated by drinking water every 20-30 minutes when out in hot weather.
You should also ensure that the clothes you wear can easily wick moisture from your skin to help you cool down.
In Winter, make sure you wear warm and comfortable winter clothes to maintain your body temperature. While you may not be inclined to drink water as it is cold, it is still good to stay hydrated.
Flying a kite in the day is easy and safe. You can see where your kite and kite line are, and if they are going to collide with something. In case your kite decides to explore the world by flying 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 visibility of where your kite is flying. It is a safety risk especially 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. Night-time kite-flying, at best, should be left to the professionals. However, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the following video of kite flying at night!
Now that you have a good idea of the factors that can make your kite-flying experience an excellent one, check the weather forecast and make plans to go out and enjoy flying your kite!