Best Weather Conditions for Paragliding
Paragliding is a highly weather dependent form of flight. It’s critical for beginner pilots to learn what the best weather conditions are for paragliding and make sure they are fully aware of what weather conditions are too dangerous to fly in.
This is what dangerous weather conditions can mean for paragliding pilots:
- Failure to achieve and retain sufficient lift
- Lose of control
- Unable to fly in the planned direction
- Unable to land in the planned landing zone, or unable to land safely anywhere
Here are some key weather conditions to look out for before and during your paragliding flight. This article will give you an overview of the key areas to look out for and consider. Enjoy and safe paragliding to you all!
Paragliding & Clouds
Excellent paragliding weather conditions don’t need to be sunny, soaring sites will work in cloudy days – air is forced above and pilots use this updraft. If it’s clear sky, cloudy or overcast you can still paraglide. In overcast skies there will be less thermals but you can still paraglide safely.
Thermic conditions are created when the sun heats the air and creates cumulus cloud.
If you plan on going cross country paragliding, your ideal weather conditions are lots of white, puffy, cumulus clouds. This means that a cold front has just passed, approximately about 12 hours prior.
Cumulus clouds form at the top of thermals. Think of these as columns of rising air, with clouds sitting at the top of the columns. Ideally you want to use these thermals to circle your way up to the top.
Because of the colder weather, thermals are less common during winter. You may find it more difficult to achieve high altitudes or paraglide cross country. However don’t let this put you off any form of paragliding. Many people paraglide in places such as the Tirol region in Austria in winter, where the mountains are covered in snow. Just watch out for wind and don’t actually paraglide in snow – this is dangerous and will reduce your control of your wing.
Paragliding Wind Speed & How It Affects You
Ideal wind between 2 and 15mph, wind speed above 18mph (29km/h) isn’t suitable for paragliding. If you have beginner/intermediate experience you may wish to avoid winds exceeding 12mph (20km/h). While wind can be helpful, it is possible to launch a paraglider without wind. The speed the pilot generates by running combined with the pilot’s weight and the paraglider wing is sufficient.
Wind speed and strength is tested by an anemometer, make sure you fly with one of these. It’s a good idea to test wind strength before paragliding This will help you to determine how to approach launching and landing, and if you should postpone your flight.
- 1 m/s or 3.6 km/h – Very calm conditions, you’ll need a forward launch with lots of running and effort on your part to launch
- 1 – 3 m/s or 3.6 – 10.8 km/h – Forward and reverse launch possible, a decent amount of running or good reverse launch skills needed
- 4 – 6 m/s or 14.4 – 21.6 km/h – Moderate wind strength, reverse launch or a front launch with a small amount of running
- 7 – 10 m/s or 25.2 – 36 km/h – Wind strength is getting strong. Only very experienced pilots should consider launching. Reverse launch is the best option. Highly susceptible to turbulence and being blown backwards after launching.
It’s also important to monitor if wind is constant or changing. You don’t want to launch in decent conditions, only to find that the wind strength has increased and now it’s difficult to land safely. Test wind speed across a two minute period. If wind speed changes more than 2 m/s in this two minute period, it’s gusty. You risk the possibility of being flown backwards, turbulence and difficulty in landing.
Wind gradient is the change in wind strength and direction with height, and is another dimension pilots must consider before launching. This hazard occurs when low moving air is slowed by friction with the ground, causing pilots to notice an increase of wind as they reach height. This can cause pilots to be blown backwards as they begin to increase in height not long after launch. Wind gradient can also suprise pilots by causing an increase of ground speed just before they land.
In good flying conditions, the airflow is isolated and moves slowly within its layer. This is known as laminar flow. When airflow speed increases to a certain point, airflow can become turbulent. Turbulence is when air particles move in chaotic, random directions. Winds above 5-6 m/s can often be turbulent.
Only experienced pilots should paraglide in light turbulence and no-one should paraglide in moderate to heavy turbulence. Paragliding in turbulence is hazardous because without the smooth laminar airflow, the wing can easily stall, spin, collapse or suddenly drop or sink. Imagine trying to land safely with this going on!
Turbulence can also be caused by large solid objects, this is known as mechanical turbulence. Large objects which block wind can create a turbulent zone. Fortunately this type of turbulence is often easier to predict and avoid.
Weather Conditions Where You Shouldn’t Paraglide
Strong Winds – as mentioned earlier, if wind speeds are above 18mph (29km/h), or above a level that you’re comfortable flying in, or if the wind speed is increasing towards this speed, it’s a good idea to to avoid paragliding.
Orographic Cloud – can form around a hillside and create an area with no visibility, which could result in you flying into objects. Ideally pilots should always fly when they’ve got full visual meteorological conditions. Orographic clouds can also cause rain.
Lenticular Clouds and Foehn Winds – occurs when air goes up a hill and drops down the other side, heating it. This causes some areas to be windy while others are calm
Rain – Paragliding in the rain is extremely dangerous. Rain is one of the most common and easy to predict paragliding hazards. Older paraglider wings are not waterproof and will absorb the rain. This makes the wing heavier and difficult to manoeuvre. Newer wings won’t absorb the wind however rain will still affect the ability of air to smoothly travel across the surface of the wing. You’ll probably get away with a few raindrops, but any proper rain will make paragliding extremely dangerous.
Cumulonimbus (Storm Clouds) – can cause very strong updrafts and downdrafts of up to 200mph. Even planes go well out of their way to avoid them! These clouds often combine other dangers such as heavy rain, strong winds, sudden powerful lifts and lightning
We hope this has helped you to identify the best weather for paragliding and avoid some nasty situations. Read the following article if you’d like to learn more on paragliding safety. Enjoy!
All about paragliding in winter
What do you need to do paragliding in winter? Is it possible and safe to do it? Weather is an important thing to keep in mind if you are planning to do paragliding: the rain, the cold, the wind… Depending on where you are going to fly, they can really influence your flight.
This is why you should consider some key concepts before starting right away. Preparing your flights in advance will keep you from unexpected events or putting yourself into dangerous situation.
In this post, from Overfly we will review everything you need to know about paragliding in winter so you can be prepared for your next flights. Do not miss anything and pay attention, the best tips on how can you do paraglide in winter are here!
Can you do paragliding in winter?
First of all: yes, it is possible to do paragliding in winter. Just like in any other season, there are certain aspects to consider. Also, you should also remember that winter does not always mean cold and windy weather, in some other places it is nice and warm, so paragliding does not entirely depend on the seasons, but it is more about having the right weather.
Keep reading to know more about the right way to fly during winter season!
Is it dangerous to do paragliding in winter?
To do paragliding during winter season should not be dangerous if you take the appropriate measures, but just like in any other season. Both expert pilots and beginners should know what to check when they are preparing a new adventure.
This is why we remind you to constantly check the weather, to explore the place where you plan on paragliding and do not take any risks. If it looks like a bad day to do paragliding, then do not do it!
In fact, in Overfly Tenerife our team of expert pilots will always check before the flight if the weather conditions are appropriated for the flight. If this is not the case, then the flight will be cancelled and postponed to another day.
What do I need to do paragliding in winter?
So, now that you know that it is possible to do paragliding in winter, are there any special recommendations about it? If you recently started to fly or you are planning to try a paragliding experience and the cold weather scares you, then do not fear anymore! Overfly is here to help you: everything you need to know about paragliding in winter.
Wear the right clothes
We always advise everyone to wear winter clothes, no matter the season or the weather. Remember that the higher you are, the colder it gets. If you are flying on a really cold day, then for sure you should wear the warmest clothes you have.
This means, for example, wearing gloves, thick pants and a good winter jacket. Maybe even two pairs of socks…
However, you should also keep you comfort in mind. Sport clothes are always a big yes when it comes to do paragliding. The only thing you should worry about once in the air is having a great time, and not being uncomfortable of having cold.
Check the weather before flying
We know we have said this before; however, it is still very important. You do not want any surprises once you are flying!
What is the best weather to do paragliding? If you want to know more about it, then we recommend you to check this section of our paragliding guide where you will find all you need to know about the best weather conditions to fly: Weather Conditions – Paragliding
Keep in mind the wind
Wind in some places can represent a great deal. Maybe if you are used to fly in windy landscapes then, this might not represent a great challenge, but if you are not, the winter season also means more chances of stronger winds.
You will know that the wind is too strong when it surpasses the 20 km/h or the 12 mph. Normally, expert pilots would not recommend you flying if the wind is this strong, so better call it off and leave it for another day.
What about the climate of the place where you are flying
In this post we are mainly focusing on those places where the winter weather is cold and rainy, however, you should also remember that on the south hemisphere, winter is the warmest season of the year.
That is why if you are more of a traveller, you should know the climate of the place you are planning to visit.
For example, in Tenerife, the isle where we are located, most of the days of the year we have shinny warm weather and very soft wind, so paragliding here is always possible, no matter the season.
Are there less thermal currents during winter?
Thermals are formed when the sun heats the air. Since warm air is lighter than cold one, it ascends high up creating the perfect environment for paragliding pilots to fly in. They are commonly used in soaring techniques, just like birds do.
However, because of cold weather, thermals can be less common during winter. The sun will not be strong enough to heat the air and therefore you will not be able to soar that much. The experience will be different from paragliding during warm seasons, but it will be still worth it.
Can you do paragliding in winter in Tenerife?
We consider Tenerife one of the best places to do paragliding during winter season. The average annual temperature is about 19ºC so it does not matter when, the weather is usually perfect for flying.
In Overfly we count with the best team of experts in paragliding. If you have not tried it yet, then you should try for sure our different paragliding experiences in Costa Adeje, at the south of Tenerife.
Check the different paragliding flights we have available for you and discover the taste of the sky of Tenerife.
If you liked this post, we recommend you visiting the other articles we have about paragliding in our blog, you will love them!
See you folks! And remember that you can call us if you have questions or you need more information about paragliding in Tenerife.
What is the Paragliding Weight Limit?
Weight limits exist for many forms of transport, however when it comes to flight such as paragliding, weight limits are even more critical. This can have a severe effect on your level of control, safety and enjoyment of paragliding.
If you’re a passenger, the tandem paragliding weight limit usually ranges between 242 – 264 pounds (110-120 kilograms). This allows for a maximum limit of 485 – 529 pounds (220-240 kilograms) for the pilot, passenger and any equipment being carried.
The ideal weight limit for paragliding can vary for a number of reasons, and tandem operators will usually be cautious to protect their own liability. The pilot wants to show you the enjoyment of paragliding and not be worried if the flight is going to be safe.
One variable which can affect the paragliding weight limit is wind. If there is little wind, a pilot may not feel comfortable flying close to the weight limit, particularly during launch. On days with higher winds and stronger thermals they are likely to be more comfortable about flying close to the weight limit.
Launching an overloaded paraglider requires greater wind force to gain lift. The pilot (or in tandem flights, the pilot and passenger) are likely to require greater running to achieve lift, and would likely start bunny-hopping off and back on to the ground.
Consistency in wind is also important. Inconsistent wind conditions could cause you to leave the ground and commence what feels like a safe launch. However an overloaded paraglider could come crashing back down to the ground seconds later if wind conditions are not consistent.
Inconsistencies in wind at higher altitudes can cause an overloaded paraglider to be unsaveable. A paraglider which is under a safe weight limit can often be saved when control is lost. This is often conducted by quickly stalling the paraglider and reinflating the wing full of air. A paraglider above a safe maximum weight limit is more difficult to quickly manoeuvre and when it starts to drop, the weight causes it to fall faster.
Landing is also a high-risk proposition with an overloaded paraglider; you’ll be far more likely to crash land. While pilots do like to come into landing with a bit of speed, in this situation it’s not likely to end well. You could have too much speed and have difficulty flaring out at the end. Instead of approaching the ground in an almost parallel position, sitting almost upright and protecting your ankles, you’ll be in a much more perpendicular position and more likely to land in a rough way, or even crash and cause injury.
Don’t Exceed, But Don’t Be Too Far Under the Weight Limit!
In saying this, it’s also worth knowing that a paraglider which is too light can also be dangerous. Under-weighted paragliders can become more prone to wing collapses. Having a moderate level of weight that’s not pushing the weight limit for paragliding and is distributed correctly, produces greater stability.
Being too light can also make your paraglider difficult to steer and control. Steering is partially done through shifting your body weight, without this weight it can be difficult. You’ll also gather less speed, which can affect your steering, landing and general enjoyment.
This isn’t like throwing too many suitcases in the back of your car! Paragliding weight limits are to be taken seriously and you can risk your life if these are exceeded or if you fly seriously underweight.
If you’re considering trying tandem paragliding on your holiday or for a special occasion, your pilot should take your weight into consideration and will ensure that the paragliding setup, along with your’s and the pilot’s weight are below limit. Just to be safe, it’s always a good idea to research the operator before booking and check their reviews.
If you’re paragliding solo, it’s important to use a paragliding harness and wing that’s appropriate for your weight. It’s a common mistake for beginners or those making their first upgrade to purchase a second hand paraglider because it was a cheap deal that was “too good to say no to”. Start off with a setup that’s suitable for your weight and ability – this way you’ll be safer, have greater control and will gain greater enjoyment from your paragliding.