Published: November 18, 2017
The Best Weather For Skydiving
If you ask any experienced skydiver to tell you what the perfect weather for skydiving looks like, she'll describe for you a perfect summer's day: bright blue skies, tank-top temperatures and a light breeze that's lined up perfectly along the landing area. That description might well seem to describe anybody's perfect day, but there are solid reasons that these factors drive a perfect skydive, as well. If you're curious, we'd love to tell you why!
Perfect weather reduces risk.
The sport-at-large of skydiving revolves around the phenomenon of diligently calculated risk. If you're a first-time tandem skydiver, you'll see the first evidence of that phenomenon during the run-up to your jump. Invariably, it'll involve weather. Weather, after all, comes into play during every single part of any given skydive, from the clouds that zip by at 120MPH to the softness of your gleeful landing.
It won't surprise you, then, that inclement weather can--and often does--cancel jumping altogether. Certain disagreeable conditions prevent us from jumping: strong wind, thick clouds, rain and cold. We stop jumping whenever there's weather that restricts our vision in the sky or makes it difficult to control our parachutes on the way down to the ground. Deviations from the best skydiving weather are common and not always unpleasant (some clouds are fun!), but we go on a "weather hold" when more serious conditions rear their ugly heads.
Here's why we want bright blue skies:
We need to see the ground from the airplane. We skydivers navigate visually, so we need to know that our target is in sight and reachable from our position before we leave the plane. Modern skydiving aircraft does use GPS to bring us reasonably close to the goal, but all experienced skydivers understand that GPS is a terrible thing to bet your health on. (It's like Google Maps getting you lost, except you're moving significantly faster than a hundred miles an hour and you're going to go to the hospital if you don't figure out where you're going in a few seconds.) Landing off the dropzone could easily end us up in a tree, a pond or a busy parking lot. Yikes!
Here's why we want tank-top temperatures:
Due to a meteorological phenomenon called "lapse rate," it's much, much colder at altitude than it is on the ground--about thirty degrees, give or take. When it's 80 on the ground, it's cold up there. When it's 50 on the ground, it's bitter. And it hurts.
If it's chilly and raining--even super-lightly--that situation is even less tenable. Obviously, rain falls from clouds, which is a subject we already discussed, but even if those puffies are higher in altitude than we plan to get out of the plane, we're probably going to wait for the drizzle to pass us by. Honestly, it's just not worth the ouch factor (plus, water adds extra weight to the fabric of our parachutes, which negatively affects the flight).
Here's why we want a light breeze that's lined up perfectly along the landing area:
We need to be able to meaningfully control our parachutes' descent rate and direction. As a first-time tandem skydiver, you're probably concerned mainly with the freefall part of your jump. We experienced jumpers tend to do our decision-making a lot more along the lines of our parachute flight. We know that high winds significantly affect the safety thereof. High winds, especially if they're across our landing area instead of along it, can easily create dangerous rotors, thrash us around in heavy turbulence and/or push us off-course. (Even backwards.)
To compensate for that possibility, skydiving dropzones enforce wind speed limits. These limits affect different solo skydiving licensing levels in different ways. Holders of higher-level parachuting licenses are offered more personal latitude make decisions about wind speed. Professional skydivers enjoy more latitude than first-level ("A-licensed") sport skydivers--but professional skydivers also tend to be conservative based on the outcomes of the bad decision-making they've seen in person over the course of their jumping careers.
When the weather prevents a skydive, we reschedule.
What happens when any sport is canceled due to weather? Rematch! If bummer weather keeps you on the ground on the day you've been scheduled to make your skydive, no worries. We'll happily reschedule your jump for another day. We're concerned with your safety and comfort, after all.
Look outside, does it look like the best weather for skydiving? If so, book your skydive today!
I highly recommend them.
» Ken K.