Adrenalin junkies and adventurers often go for skydiving. The thrill of jumping out of a plane and dropping down before landing softly by pulling out the parachute is exciting. You may be a first-timer or someone who enjoys skydiving; the safety of this activity depends a lot on the weather.
Weather conditions may be confusing for a lot of skydivers and winds, rain or clouds can put a damper on your skydiving experience. Below we look at the elements of weather and which conditions are the best for skydiving.
Winds can be beneficial as well as problematic for a skydiver. If the wind blows too hard or forcefully on the ground, it causes parachutes to go backward or causes turbulence on the space right above the ground. Strong winds can re-inflate parachutes after landing and can cause skydivers and the instructors to fall off tumbling and be dragged as they are strapped to the parachute.
Good winds help a person to go farther and execute perfect landings. But unpredictable and fast winds on the ground or in the air can lead to unsafe landing conditions. For example, with the right kind of wind, a person can glide across the surface of a water body and then land on the ground. In turbulence, he wouldn’t be able to attempt such an act.
Clouds in the sky are the natural blinders of the sun. They also affect visibility as you need to see the ground from above before you jump. A thick cloud cover may not allow you to get a good view of the ground below or the landing area. Clear blue skies are needed to have the target landing in sight before you can leave the plane.
A GPS can bring you close to the landing point, but you will know the accuracy for sure if you can see it. Not landing in a drop zone, could lead to you being dropped amongst trees, power lines or on parking lots, any of which can be dangerous.
As a skydiver, you would probably want the temperature to be tank-top. “Lapse rate” is a natural phenomenon due to which it is very cold at a high altitude than at the ground. There may be a difference of at least 30 degrees in temperature between the two areas.
If the ground has a temperature of 80 degrees, it is cold in the sky, but if it is 50 degrees on the ground, it is much much colder up there. If it is raining plus it is super cold, then the weather conditions in the sky are less tenable. It is better to wait for the rain to pass. Moreover, raindrops at that altitude will add weight to the parachute and negatively affect your skydiving experience.
A light breeze that is lined up with the landing will be beneficial. A skydiver has to be able to control the direction and descent rate of the parachute. Jumping out of the plane isn’t the hard part but getting the descent right is more important. High winds affect a safe landing. If the wind is blowing across a landing area, it can push the persons who are landing, off the course.
Ground fog is one of the reasons that affect safety in getting you to the ground. It also impacts the visibility of the landing area. It may not look thick if you are standing on the ground, but there might be trouble in getting a clear line of view from ten thousand feet above the ground. A skydive can be canceled because of ground fog.
If the ground is clear check the skies for clouds. If they are right above you, as in don’t feel too far off the ground, then they can prevent you from jumping. Low and thick clouds above ground can cause visibility problems and hence skydiving is not advised under such conditions.
If the sky is cloudy, but the clouds are high off, and you can still skydive, then rain can put a damper on your plans. Skydiving in the rain can be very painful. It will be cold and wet, but raindrops hitting your body while skydiving will feel like pushpins hitting your body at high speeds.
How to choose the date for skydiving?
After understanding how weather plays a crucial role while skydiving, the next question is how to know when the weather is most suitable. Determining weather conditions involves inputs from instructors, pilots, on-site tools and weather reports. Most skydiving institutes have experienced personnel who can make the call for you if the weather is good or not and also help you in buying used skydiving gear for your next dive.
Clothing for a cold day
If you are skydiving on a very warm day, then you don’t have to worry much about clothing. But if it is colder, then consider layering. That way you will get insulation, and you can remove layers if it gets warmer. Choose thermal clothing, that is, those with properties to keep the body warm. Protect your hands with gloves and wear proper closed shoes.
Beware of thunderstorms
Thunderstorms can create dangerous weather conditions in any area they hit. They are even more dangerous for skydivers. Not only do they bring rain and lighting, but they are also accompanied by erratic wind flows at high speeds. If there are warnings in the area for thunderstorms, skip the skydiving session for the day.