How Weather Can Affect My Skydiving Day
Nearly every outdoor sport and activity is subject to the weather and affected by certain unfavorable conditions. You can’t exactly play ball if the field is drenched or it is raining cats and dogs. And, you wouldn’t want to take your little ones (if you have them) to the park or playground if it was forecast to storm. When you’re skydiving, your playground is the sky. As you take in the atmosphere, you are particularly at the mercy of mother nature. Bright blue cloudless skies, gentle breezes, and temperatures of 75 degrees make a perfect day for tons of activities, skydiving included.
Though, not every day will match up to the delightful description above.
So, what sorts of weather conditions will affect your skydiving day and how?
Things to consider:
- We need to be able to see the ground to land. While GPS is used in the aircraft, nothing beats the human eye. Exiting in conditions where the ground is not visible could result in jumpers being forced to land over trees, neighborhoods, lakes, or parking lots.
- There are essentially two parts to a skydive-freefall and the canopy ride. While you are probably more focused on the thrilling fall through the air at a zippy 120mph, there is still the canopy ride to consider. Winds can affect the ability of the canopy to fly, and thus, the ability of you and your tandem instructor to land safely on the ground.
- Rain drops pitter pattering on a roof may be natures poetry or the skies soft symphony, but raindrops making contact with your skin while you freefall at 120 mph is anything but soft! Honestly, it’s a real pain.
Patience is a virtue, and sometimes, skydiving requires waiting for optimal conditions. Weather holds can cause delays. Please understand, it’s for your safety and the safety of the instructors that the drop zone will suspend or pause operations
Now that you know what we’re keeping in mind, here are some situations where we will go on a “weather hold.”
Low clouds are often a no-go for skydiving. Skydiving operations take place from around 13,500ft agl If there is a significant amount of cloud cover at a lower altitude than this, we will likely go on a weather hold. Even if you see bits of blue above, it may not be favorable for jumping. The clouds aren’t typically static objects. They are moving and shifting about. This means while you may see a blue “hole” when you take off, by the time you make it to altitude, it could have closed up, and you will end up in a bit of a pickle. The Safety and Training Officer at the drop zone will hold operations until the clouds dissipate and clear, and it appears that it is safe to skydive.
High Winds/High Wind Gusts
There are different wind speed limits in place for various skydiving levels. The more experienced you are, the greater the wind range or spread in wind speeds you are able to jump in and the more leniency you are given to make decisions about the speeds of winds you can fly in. Typically, skydives can still be made in higher winds, if the winds are consistent. If the gusts of wind become too dramatic (say, for example, from no wind to a gust of 14mph), operations will be put on hold. While tandem instructors are incredibly experienced jumpers, we keep your safety and theirs in mind when we put a wind hold in place.
Furthermore, the weight of the water on the fabric of the parachutes negatively affects the way the parachutes fly and can cause damage to the gear. Honestly, if it looks like a dreary drizzly dismal day, it’s likely that your skydive will be nixed.
So, what is one to do?
Sometimes, the winds will calm, the clouds will clear, and the rains will pass. At many drop zones, if it appears that skydive operations will be able to occur later in the day, they will remain open, and you are welcome to wait as long as you like. Other times, it is a solid bet that skydiving just isn’t in the cards that day and the drop zone will cancel operations for the day. While it can be frustrating, remember that no one can control the weather and decisions to suspend or cancel operations are made with safety and your experience in mind.
If the forecast seems grim the day before your scheduled skydive, give us a ring! We are more than happy to tell you what we think the next day will bring. Though we can only go off the forecasts we have, and no one can predict exactly what the weather will do (meteorologists who are paid to predict such things get it wrong all the time).
If, unfortunately, the weather prevents you from skydiving, do not fret, we will work with you to get you rescheduled for another day when you have availability. We promise the experience itself is so remarkable it is worth the wait for a perfect day.
Skydiving in The Cold: Does Temperature Affect Skydiving?
Many new and novice skydivers have questions and concerns, it’s normal. A lot of those questions will be around how the weather and natural elements affect skydiving; what makes for safe and unsafe skydiving conditions? One of the most common questions is: ‘does temperature affect skydiving?’
You’ll probably have a lot of queries as to how different temperatures and weather conditions affect skydiving safety. But you’d be surprised by most of the answers, and under what conditions it’s still safe to skydive.
To get to the bottom of this let’s take a look at what are the best weather conditions for skydiving. Let’s also explore how the rain, cold, and winter can affect your skydiving experience.
What weather conditions cancel a skydive?
Can cold weather cancel a skydive?
While temperature can affect skydiving, skydivers adhere to the Visual Flight Rules (VFR), set out by the Federal Aviation Administration. These regulations indicate to aircraft pilots when it is, and isn’t, safe to fly.
Most of these rules and guidelines are based on how clear the atmosphere is. The VFR sets out a minimal field of clear vision using Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). These rules are important for the pilot to have a clear view of the ground and other aircraft. Equally, these rules also ensure a skydiver’s vision of the landing zone and other skydivers is always clear and safe.
So while different temperatures can affect skydiving, the primary rule of thumb is that there should be clear blue skies. Skydivers will rarely jump when it’s cloudy; why would you want to jump if you can’t get those magnificent views?
Can you skydive in the rain?
Rain on the plane
While it’s possible to skydive in the rain, it’s very rarely done. As mentioned above, the VFR sets out strict rules which deter pilots and skydivers from going up when the weather is gloomy and vision is impaired.
Even if you could skydive in the rain it would make for a very unpleasant experience. Temperatures at high altitudes are much colder than on the ground. Also, falling into rain would soon get you drenched through. Your gear and clothing would begin to feel heavy and you’d feel much colder, regardless of your layer. When skydiving you always want to feel as dry and comfortable as possible.
There may be occasions when there’s a very light drizzle but the clouds are sparse or widely dispersed. Experienced and professional skydivers may even risk light rain and wet conditions. But for first-time and less experienced skydivers you’ll only skydive when the conditions are clear.
What is the best temperature for skydiving?
A pleasant day for skydiving
Many people ask what the best temperature for skydiving is. The first thing to know about skydiving temperatures is that it’s going to be cold. Often very cold. Even on a magnificent clear sunny day or 75F (24C), it’s going to be around 45F at a high altitude. As a general rule of thumb, temperatures are about 30 degrees (F) colder when you’re up at your peak height. So as you can imagine, it’s going to feel a lot colder when you jump from the plane.
As long as it’s clear and there are blue skies, you’re going to have a fabulous day of skydiving. When you’re out there in freefall you probably won’t even notice the temperature. The rush and adrenalin will quickly override any concerns of the cold. And within a minute or so, as you get closer to earth, you’ll quickly begin to warm up again.
Is it bad to go skydiving in the cold?
You can still skydive in the cold
No, definitely not. As long as it’s not raining and there are no issues with the cloud or wind, the cold shouldn’t affect your skydiving or be the cause of cancellation.
You’ll want to dress appropriately and wear a few extra layers than you’d expect. At below 59F (15C), you’ll want to wrap up very warm. Thick gloves are important (your fingers really feel that cold!), and we’d recommend thick sleeves and pants. You’ll also want a good set of thermals underneath. Up to 68F (20C), and we would recommend gloves again, as well as long-sleeved tops and pants, with additional layers. At above 68F and you probably won’t need that extra layers underneath.
It may be tempting to wear short sleeves and pants on particularly hot days, but it’s best to avoid this. Not only will you notice that temperature drop when you jump, but it’s always best to keep your skin fully covered up for safety reasons.
Can skydiving be done in winter?
Winter skydiving offers new views
In short, yes you can! Many people wrongly assume skydiving is a summer sport, but it certainly isn’t. It can depend on where in the world you are and how harsh (or pleasant) the winter weather is, but in general, you can skydive all year round.
Again, it all goes back to how clear the skies are. When deciding on whether it’s a good day to jump, you follow the same rules of visibility and wind strength, as you would in the summer. The temperature is generally not the defining factor when deciding to jump, however, if it’s extremely cold it can make the experience unpleasant.
A winter jump can be a very unique and rewarding experience, especially if you’ve already done several summer jumps. In the winter you will get a different view of the land around you, and it can be amazing falling from high above seeing everything covered in frost or snow.
So while the temperature won’t necessarily affect skydiving, remember to wrap up warm! And if the weather gets really bad, you could even try skydiving indoors!
When Will a Skydive Be Canceled?
In our books, there is no bigger bummer than the cancellation of a skydive when the weather conditions for skydiving aren’t agreeable. Especially if you’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming about it; being nervous about it; imagining the pictures; researching the equipment and the dropzone. you want to just get up there and do it already. Getting the sad, slow head-shake and starting the conversation about rescheduling is not in line with what you’d pictured for the day. Gosh darnit.
To help alleviate that frustrated feeling, it helps to understand where a cancellation comes from due to inclement skydiving weather conditions. Knowing what we look for as far as weather – from a skydiving perspective – will help you set the right expectations. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Ground Fog
If your skydive is canceled, it’ll almost certainly be canceled because of some kind of cloud. This makes perfect sense. After all: if the tandem instructor can’t see the landing area from the plane, he or she is going to have serious trouble getting you both safely to the ground.
Ground fog might not look thick from where you’re standing on the ground, but think about it: if you can see the landing area from where you’re standing ten feet away from it but you have a little trouble seeing the tree line at 150 feet, then how clear will the landing be from over ten thousand feet up, with a bunch more fog stacked on top?
If your jump has been canceled due to fog, it’s likely because the pilot has radioed down to manifest and told them it’s a no-go. Luckily, ground fog often clears fairly quickly and we can wait it out; if not, just go with the flow and reschedule.
2. Low Cloud Ceilings
Even if it’s clear on the ground, look up: If there are clouds above you, they might well be a jump-preventing problem. Just like our notes on fog, if there are clouds between the plane and the ground and they’re low enough and thick enough, they make skydiving much more dangerous than it should be–so, for everyone’s good, we stay on the ground.
Rain, of course, comes from clouds–and we’ve already established how clouds can get in the way of a skydive. Even if those clouds are high enough to make it safely underneath, however, the cancellation can come if it’s raining. Why? Because holy slow loris, rain is painful. Skydiving in the rain isn’t just wet and cold. It feels like being pelted by pushpins being blown into your face and body at 120mph. Not our idea of a good time, and it’s probably not yours.
Aside from clouds, wind is the biggest offender when it comes to skydiving cancellations. When the wind is blowing too hard on the ground, it can actually cause parachutes to fly backward. It also causes dangerous turbulence in that all-important space close to the ground. It can even aggressively re-inflate parachutes on the ground, sending tandem instructors and their students tumbling as if dragged by a racing drogue gone mad. Because we care about the safety of our staff and customers, we don’t send up planes in those conditions; it’s just not worth it.
Does weather look suspect on a day you’ve planned to jump? Here’s what to do: call ahead and speak with someone at the skydiving center. If jumps are definitely canceled, you likely won’t have to make the call: you’ll be notified by e-mail, text or a phone call.
Our rule of thumb is led by this: It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the sky than in the sky wishing you were on the ground. We want your jump to be awesome, so we’ll be here, ready with our biggest smiles, when the weather improves!
Read more: How Dangerous is Tandem Skydiving? or get more info about how YOU can go Tandem Skydiving