Cloud types and kiteboarding safety
The analysis of winds and global weather conditions before a kiteboarding session is a paramount safety procedure. Before preparing your gear and launching the kite, spare a few minutes assessing the sky and its clouds.
Kiteboarding demands an intelligent approach to clouds. They often tell us how the weather is at the moment, but also what can be heading our way. Normally, your eyes can reach very far away. From where you're about to hit the water, it's possible to get a circular view of dozens of miles.
We also know what's not good for kiteboarding. Strong and unstable wind gusts, walls, buildings, electricity wires and general wind turbulence.
Black clouds are a warning sign. If you spot one or a group of black clouds, then you should probably wait or quit the session if you're already riding. Black clouds carry rain and very harsh winds that will overpower your kite.
Wind can throw you 40 feet up in the air without letting you know. Accidents like these happen every week, in every corner of the world, by novice and experienced kiteboarders. The goal is to enjoy, not putting your life at risk.
Darker clouds or storm clouds usually change the direction and intensity of wind flags' behavior. Update your real-time wind information by taking quick glance at these signs, every 15 minutes.
Clouds are defined by altitude range: high (1, in the photo), middle (2), low (3) and moderate vertical (4). High clouds form at high altitudes and tend to be gentle, wispy and transparent. If you spot a large amount of these clouds, that's because an approaching storm system is coming.
Middle clouds may bring precipitation and tell you there's a little weather instability at medium altitude (2-7km/6.500-2300ft). These clouds often look like snowflakes.
Low clouds are lumpy and usually appear in slightly unstable air conditions. They are a sign of light rain or drizzle. Moderate vertical clouds are grey-to-black clouds and tell us that rain is coming associated with fair weather.
Studying the global weather scenario is the first step for the most enjoyable kiteboarding session of your life. Play it safe and take a look at the Beaufort Wind Force Scale.