It’s finally time. Though it was tough, you made it to the long, impatiently awaited date you scheduled for your first skydive. You read every blog post on our website, have practically memorized the directions to our facility, and already have your friends on standby expectantly waiting for you to post pics to your Facebook timeline. Brrring! The telephone rings. The office staff has called to inform you that unfortunately, the weather will not permit them to conduct skydiving operations today. NO WAY! This simply cannot be. You wonder if they are trying to pull a fast one on you. Don’t have any doubts: if your skydive is called off because of the weather, it’s for good reason.
Since the sky is our playground, more than other sports, we are directly affected by the weather. We know you’re no skydiving weather experts (hey, even trained meteorologists can’t seem to get the forecast right!), so we’re going to cover less than safe skydiving weather conditions and explore just how they can and may affect skydiving operations.
So, how does rain affect skydiving? Plainly put, it’s a painful no-go.
Who knows whether the weather will rain on your parade (metaphorically and literally speaking) when you schedule a skydive, but we can tell you one thing: you DON’T want to make a skydive when it’s raining. Wondering why? Sometimes, to lighten the dreary situation, you’ll hear us explain that skydiving in the rain hurts because you’re hitting the pointy side of the raindrops. While kind of humorous, it’s not exactly factual. So, we’ll be real with you. Really, it’s because you’re colliding with an object (even as tiny as a raindrop) at 120mph! Trust us, it’s not a nice sensation, and one unpleasant experience we’d like to save you from.
Sure, those big fluffy white puffs in the sky may seem innocent enough, but don’t be fooled. Clouds are nefarious offenders when it comes to skydiving cancellations. While a few haphazardly scattered clouds make for beautiful photos and video (and an added perk when they serve as a static object for you to reference just how fast you’re zooming past them in freefall), if they are thick and low, they can obstruct visibility and pose a threat. After all, you kind of need to be able to see where you’re trying to land to actually land there. You wouldn’t try to park a car in a parking lot miles away with your eyes closed, would you?
These aren’t just rules we’ve made up either. The Basic Safety Requirements provided by the United States Parachute Association state that skydives cannot violate the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration. Guess what regulations they have in place? That’s right. Cloud regulations. See, in skydiving, clouds are no joke. The cloud itself won’t hurt you. It’s what the cloud could be hiding that’s so terrifying. Having trouble catching our drift? Well, think about it. In that thick cloud layer, there could be a small aircraft flying about or even another jumper you could collide with. Neither of these are pretty situations. So, can you skydive in cloudy weather? We wouldn’t recommend it.
Clouds strike again! You may not think of ground fog as a cloud, but it most certainly is. It’s just one that’s “down to earth”…get it!? In all seriousness, clouds can form at any altitude, and ground fog is essentially a cloud that has formed and settled close to the ground. The issue with ground fog is similar to the issue with a layer of clouds higher up. With a layer of ground fog, our instructors cannot gauge their landings or see who else is landing at the same time. Steering a canopy is similar to driving a car, you have to be aware of the traffic around you. In cars, we can turn on our high beams, so we can be seen in situations with low visibility. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing when you’re flying a parachute. So, if there’s a layer of ground fog, we’re staying put. The risk to your safety and the safety of our instructors just isn’t worth it. Typically, just a little patience is key. Often, ground fog will clear up all on its own in just a few hours!
How much wind is too much for skydiving? Wind is an invisible, and yet incredibly dangerous force. Here’s a scenario we’ve seen before. The sky above is beautiful, bright, and blue—but there’s a breeze that comes gusting through every so often. Uh oh. Skydiving might have to wait. Are you wondering “Why? Everything else sounds perfect, what’s the worst that could happen?” A lot. High winds can send jumpers off course, and tumultuous, unpredictable winds can cause the parachute to collapse and can result in hard landings. Neither of these are worth the risk.
Despite our desire to get you in the air, if the weather is anything other than calm and clear, we may not be able to go. It’s for good reason though. The safety of our customers and staff are of the utmost importance and will always be our top priority. Waiting on weather can be frustrating, but trust us, it is TOTALLY worth it to wait.
Have a question about the weather? Don’t hesitate to give us a call!
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.