Quite naturally Kite flying is generally associated with fine weather, it follows that photography outdoors needs reasonably fine weather especially for KAP. However fine weather here in the UK and away from coastal areas, hills and flat open plains, can mean lighter more erratic winds, that’s not good for KAP and the statement also has a clause, ‘away from coastal areas, hills and flat open plains’. More on that later but what we do need is wind. Without it KAP is a non starter, so while we don’t need to go into scientific depth on the subject, I do think it will help from several aspects, not least safety, to explore the subject of wind.
Now it is very easy here to slip into long complicated explanations in meteorological terminology. Hopefully I will avoid it but as you become more interested in KAP, the more you will become interested in the weather, wind conditions and so on. To see how the wind starts and how local conditions can effect the wind go to Wind formation.
The standard weather forecast as issued by the BBC and the Met Office can only be a general forecast. It really only tells us whether or not its going to be dry/wet, cloudy, cold/warm and so on. That’s not to say its useless, far from it, it is the datum from which you will be able to say it is worth going further today or not. If you are flying locally, fine but if you are going further afield then you are going to need to know what’s happening there and for that you need a more accurate picture.
One very good source of info is the Met Office Website. Going further, if you are prepared to subscribe to their free aviation service then you will be able to access TAF, Metar and low level wind forecasts. TAF’s are airfield forecasts, Metars are the actual weather conditions at a time and at an airfield. So by locating an airfield near to where you are going you can see what the weather is doing.
I have also found a web site that caters for paragliders, kite surfers and the like. It uses TAFs, Metars and other met station data. It is presented using a semi-animated interface. It is excellent and can be found here: www.xcweather.co.uk
There is now a sister site for North America called WindMapper.com
Finally remember the upper wind speed limit for your type of kite. KAP kites are designed to create lift usually in light to moderate wind speeds. The amount of lift is proportional to the wind speed passing over the kite. You will not believe the force generated by a kite until you have experienced it for real. So beware, you have been warned. High wind speeds can spell disaster. It might be wise if you take it up seriously to invest in a wind speed meter (anemometer). I now use a Windtronic 2 meter. Shown on the left it gives windspeed read outs in Beaufort(Bar Graph), M/s, Kmph, Mph& Kt, along with the average and gust speeds (Max).