Paragliding Weather Conditions
Paragliding is one of those hobbies that can only be done under certain weather conditions. The two basic requirements are dry weather with wind speeds of less than 18 miles per hour.
Beginners should be looking at wind speeds of 2 miles per hour to 15 miles per hour. Sunshine is nice but it is not essential. When starting out in paragliding, the student will learn about thermic conditions. This is when the air is heated by the sun and cumulus clouds form. This allows for the paragliders to get a little higher and reach the base of the clouds.
Keeping an eye on the weather forecast is essential. It is important to remember that weather conditions can change at any time. Most clubs will look at several different sources for a paragliding weather forecast.
When the winds are too strong the conditions are too dangerous for paragliders and can lead to accidents. However, this is not the only weather condition that should be avoided. Orographic cloud for example. This is cloud that can easily form around the hillside and leave the paraglider with almost no visibility. It is a legal requirement for pilots to only fly when full visual meteorological conditions are met. This means that the flying should be done clear of cloud, with an in-flight visibility of 1.5km and with clear sight of the ground.
Lenticular clouds indicate that there are stronger winds higher up and they can demonstrate a wave in the atmosphere. The air will go upwards along the hill slope and head down the other side, heating up as it goes on its way. Some areas will be calm but there will be winds in others.
Cumulonimbus is a weather hazard that can lead to strong winds and turbulence. The strength of both updrafts and downdrafts can be around 200 miles per hour. Conditions such as this are avoided by aeroplanes, which give them a wide berth of around 10 nautical miles. This means that these conditions are definitely not suitable for the average paraglider and they should be avoided.
The paragliding school will provide the student with all the information that they need about the weather although it is not expected that he or she will be able to learn all of these terms immediately.